Issaquah, Washington man sentenced to 7 years in prison for dealing fentanyl and other drugs on the darknet
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant’s illegal possession of five guns adds to prison time
Seattle – A 29-year-0ld Issaquah, Washington man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to seven years in prison for drug and gun charges, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Nicholas Partlow sold fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs on the darknet more than 400 times. He also sold drugs locally and possessed five firearms in furtherance of his drug-trafficking activities. After contacts with law enforcement in 2020 and 2021, Partlow continued selling drugs. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones cited a range of aggravating factors in the case, including that Partlow sold fentanyl pills marked to look like prescription painkillers, and that Partlow used the darknet’s “cloak of darkness” to maintain his anonymity.
“Darknet drug dealers such as Mr. Partlow are spreading addiction and risk of overdose death across our country—all with the touch of a button,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “These defendants who deal in cyberspace don’t see the death their drugs leave behind. We must do all we can to interdict these deadly substances to reverse the record numbers of overdose deaths.”
According to records filed in the case, over the course of 2020, postal investigators seized several parcels that Partlow mailed to his drug customers. Inside, investigators found heroin, fentanyl pills, and other controlled substances. Investigators also covertly ordered drugs from Partlow through his darknet marketplace accounts.
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 five firearms from Partlow—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.
After completing his seven-year prison sentence, Partlow will spend four years on federal supervised release. He is also forfeiting to the government a range of items, including guns, electronics, cryptocurrency, cash, and seven wristwatches.
In asking for a significant sentence, prosecutors noted the heavy toll of drug-overdose deaths during the very period when Partlow was distributing drugs, and described fentanyl and the darknet as “key drivers” of the overdose crisis.
“Partlow was no mere street-level dealer and should be not sentenced like one,” Assistant United States Attorney Jonas Lerman wrote in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “In hundreds of darknet transactions, he trafficked deadly drugs. By his own account, he started dealing on the darknet because it was ‘more lucrative’ than local dealing.”
“Fentanyl and heroin continue to be a menace on our streets, but Partlow will not” said Inspector in Charge Anthony Galetti. “He believed he could take advantage of those sickened by addiction for his own profit, however today he learns the true price of the dangerous and deadly narcotics he pedaled into our communities. I commend the work on the investigators on this case who worked tirelessly to bring Partlow to justice.”
In March 2022, Partlow pleaded guilty to two felonies: conspiring to distribute controlled substances and possessing firearms in furtherance of that crime.
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 Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Bellevue Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonas Lerman.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated September 23, 2022