Dream Vendor “DoggFood” Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison
On August 14, 2018, U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced a former United States Postal Service employee to seven years in prison for distributing heroin, buprenorphine, and cocaine on the darkweb. The man, last May, admitted that he had been operating a dark web vendor account on the Dream marketplace for roughly one year. Although the man’s heroin led to the death of a police officer in Arkansas, he was never indicted on charges connected to the death and his sentence reflected the recommended sentence provided by the prosecution in the plea agreement signed in May.
Cory Nicholas Skinner appeared in a Maryland court before U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow for sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute with more than 100 grams of heroin and possession with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin and smaller quantities of cocaine and buprenorphine. Skinner, a 32-year-old from Pikesville, Maryland, admitted he had distributed almost 300 grams of heroin, more than 200 “units” of buprenorphine, and roughly 100 grams of cocaine. Although Skinner worked with accomplices, he admitted operating a dark web vendor account on the Dream darknet marketplace, shipping drugs to his customers through the United States Postal Service.
Skinner, investigators learned after intercepting more than 20 packages of heroin, buprenorphine, and cocaine during an investigation that lasted roughly six months, had worked for the United States Postal Service (USPS). The United States Postal Inspection Service has played a vital role in many of the recent dark web drug busts and, in many cases, conducted the majority of the investigations. Skinner’s case was no exception; Postal Inspector in Charge Robert B. Wemyss of the United States Postal Inspection Service branch in Washington announced the charges, the guilty plea, and spoke to the press about the case. Dark web drug cases often involve cooperation with law enforcement in different counties, states, or countries. Even though Skinner sold drugs from Maryland, Wemyss (of the USPIS Washington Division), the case involved USPIS inspectors from Charlotte, North Carolina; Fort Worth, Texas; Seattle, Washington; San Francisco, California; Phoenix, Arizona; and several other divisions including the National Headquarters Cyber Crimes Unit.
State police helped with the case as well. Arkansas law enforcement had incentive to catch Skinner with the very incident that led USPIS to the case. An Arkansas police detective with the Conway Police Department, while investigating the fatal overdose of a University of Arkansas police officer, discovered a USPS Priority Mail package in the vicinity of the overdose. The package had markings indicating that someone from Baltimore, Maryland had shipped the package. Only days after reporting the discovery to the postal inspectors who helped catch Skinner, USPIS in North Carolina and in Arizona reported inbound packages that matched the profile of the package in Arkansas. One contained buprenorphine and the other contained heroin.
USPIS questioned the intended recipient of the North Carolina package regarding the source of the drugs. The North Carolina individual told investigators that he had used bitcoin to purchase heroin from a dark web vendor named “DoggFood” on the Dream market. Postal inspectors never reported questioning the intended recipient of the Arizona package on the source of the buprenorphine the package contained. And they may not have needed to question him with regard to the investigation into DoggFood. Postal inspectors pulled a fingerprint from the packing material inside the Arizona package that belonged to Skinner. Between September 2017 and early 2018, USPIS reported seizing 20 packages that Skinner had shipped.
Although investigators had only seized packages attributed to DoggFood between September 2017 and the 2018 arrest, they learned that Skinner had been utilizing people he identified as “unusually vulnerable due to a physical or mental condition” to ship packages in July 2017 and in August 2017.
In early 2018, law enforcement raided Skinner’s home and found evidence directly connecting him to the Dream darkweb vendor account and the drug trafficking operation associated with the account. They found thousands of dollars in cash, drugs, USPS Priority Mail packages, printing labels, scales, and the laptop used in the drug trafficking conspiracy. Skinner pleaded guilty in May. U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow, this month, sentenced him to seven years in federal prison followed by four years on federal supervised release