W. Swanzey resident sentenced after mailing fentanyl, court records state

Defendant faces one charge of conspiracy to distribute, two counts of distribution of the lethal drug

A West Swanzey resident was sentenced to 13 years in prison last week for conspiring to distribute fentanyl after he sent the drug to undercover investigators in Grand Rapids, according to federal court records.

Craig Warme, 24, operated an online store on the so-called “dark web” using the username “DopeKingUSA,” according to an affidavit written by Colin Maggiolo, a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who assisted the investigation. Warme advertised heroin, cocaine and opioids — the packages he sent to undercover investigators contained fentanyl — and distributed the drugs around the country via the U.S. Postal Service, Maggiolo wrote.

The dark web is a colloquial term for web pages that cannot be indexed by search engines, require specific web browsers or software to access and provide users privacy and anonymity, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Warme’s online store operated for seven months between June and December 2022, trafficking more than 10 grams of fentanyl and earning $417,355 in gross sales, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Michigan. Court records show that Warme was fined and sentenced to 156 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on June 8 in U.S. District Court in Michigan. Additionally, Warme forfeited $14,495 from his cryptocurrency account and $1,173 that was seized from his house in November, the records indicate.

To identify Warme, investigators found an Internet Protocol (IP) address associated with him that accessed the package tracker for one drug shipment, according to the affidavit. Maggiolo wrote that investigators then surveilled Warme’s house several times, where they saw Keegan Ball, of Swanzey, drive Warme to deliver his packages at the post office. Warme was arrested on Nov. 18, 2022. Ball is currently facing one charge of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and two counts of distribution of fentanyl and aiding and abetting distribution of fentanyl in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire, according to court records.

Warme’s attorney, Sanford Schulman, pointed to the sentencing memorandum he submitted on Warme’s behalf when asked for comment. The memorandum asked for a 60-month sentence, objecting to the idea that Warme was a leader in a criminal enterprise.

“Craig was the middleman and he sent out the drugs he purchased while getting a small profit to support his own addiction,” Schulman wrote, adding that longer prison sentences do not correlate with criminal deterrence.

According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Annual Report for 2021, that federal law enforcement agency seized more than 133,000 pounds of drugs that year.

“The Postal Inspection Service is committed to combatting the opioid and fentanyl epidemic by pursuing drug traffickers who attempt to exploit the distribution channels of the Postal Service while wrongly believing the dark web allows them to engage in criminal activity with anonymity,” Rodney Hopkins, inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Detroit Division, said in the news release.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the case with help from the Michigan State Police Metropolitan Enforcement Team and the N.H. State Police, according to the release. Ball’s attorney, David Rothstein, declined to comment.

Christopher Cartwright can be reached at ccartwright@keenesentinel.com or 603-352-1234, extension 1405.

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Categories: Law