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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 7, 2022

Darknet drug trafficker pleads guilty to conspiracy and firearm charges

Admits making 400+ online sales of fentanyl, meth, and other drugs while possessing 5 firearms

Seattle – 28-year-0ld Nicholas Partlow of Issaquah, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to drug and gun charges, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Partlow admits selling drugs on the darknet more than 400 times as part of a conspiracy with the operators of darknet marketplaces and other drug traffickers. Partlow also admits selling drugs locally and possessing five firearms during and in furtherance of his drug-trafficking activities. After law enforcement searched Partlow’s residence in November 2020, he continued selling drugs. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones will sentence Partlow on July 1, 2022.

According to the plea agreement, over the course of 2020, postal investigators seized multiple parcels mailed by Partlow to his drug customers. Inside the packages, investigators found heroin, fentanyl pills, and other controlled substances. Investigators also covertly ordered heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs from Partlow through the darknet.

In November 2020, law enforcement obtained a search warrant for Partlow’s Issaquah residence. That search turned up heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, ketamine, GHB, and other drugs; electronic equipment that Partlow used as part of his trafficking operation; and drug proceeds in cash and cryptocurrency.

Investigators also seized Partlow’s five firearms—including a sawed-off shotgun and a pistol equipped with a silencer.

After the November 2020 search, Partlow continued trafficking drugs. He also tried to obtain another gun. In March 2021, police in Bellevue, Washington, arrested Partlow and an associate. Partlow carried narcotics and a notebook containing information about his trafficking activities. A few months later, in September 2021, Partlow crashed a car in Renton, Washington, while carrying narcotics and a taser. At the time, Partlow was wanted on a federal arrest warrant. He has been in federal custody since then.

Under the plea agreement, Partlow is forfeiting to the government a range of items, including guns, electronics, cryptocurrency, cash, and seven wristwatches.

Partlow pleaded guilty to two felonies: conspiring to distribute controlled substances and possessing firearms in furtherance of that crime. For the conspiracy charge, Partlow faces up to 20 years in prison; for the firearms charge, he faces a mandatory-minimum five-year prison term, which will run consecutive to any sentence imposed on the conspiracy charge. The ultimate sentence will be determined by Judge Jones after considering U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Bellevue Police Department.

 The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonas Lerman.

Topic(s): 
Cybercrime
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated March 7, 2022