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Darknet Fentanyl Dealer Sentenced to Almost 6 Years in Prison

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A San Diego man was sentenced Monday to 70 months in federal prison and forfeited millions in digital currency after he admitted to buying and selling fentanyl and buying carfentanil on darknet marketplaces, federal prosecutors said.

Investigators found 86,000 fatal dosages of an opiate in the home of Sky Justin Gornik when they arrested him on June 7, 2017.

Gornik, 39, entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors last year, admitting he bought and sold controlled substances on the dark web from 2014 to 2017.

Sky Justin Gornick, in Tijuana, 2014
Sky Justin Gornick (Right), in Tijuana, 2014

On Monday, District Court Judge Anthony J. Battagli sentenced Gornik to 70 months in prison.

Federal agents had seized 1.7 grams of carfentanil from Gornik’s home on Mount Voss Drive in the Clairemont neighborhood.

The substance is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. Prosecutors said federal agents found enough carfentanil to result in the deaths of 86,000 people.

Gornik used anonymous screen names to sell the substances on darknet marketplaces like Alpha Bay, Trade Route, Abraxas, Evolution, Outlaw Market, and Dream Market, according to prosecutors.

Agents also found sheets of fentanyl gel tablets in Gornik’s home numbering 100 tabs per sheet that Gornik purchased from a Dark Web vendor, identified as Steven Wallace George, who resides in Oklahoma, prosecutors in San Diego said.

A notebook with USPS tracking numbers and pay/owe sheets along with rolls of labels for printing were also found in the search of Gornik’s Clairemont home.

He bought and sold thousands of vials of ketamine, oxycodone pills, Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Psilocybin and Psilocin, Amphetamine, Buprenorphine, Methamphetamine, and Naloxone.

As part of his plea deal, Gornik agreed to forfeit millions in cryptocurrencies ranging from Bitcoins, Stratis, Ethereum, and currency in Poloniex and Brittex accounts.

Full Statement By USAO

SAN DIEGO – Today in federal court Sky Justin Gornik, age 39, of San Diego was sentenced by District Court Judge Anthony J. Battaglia to 70 months in prison for  participating in a conspiracy to deliver, distribute and dispense controlled substances through the internet, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(h), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846.  Gornik previously pled guilty to that charge and also admitted that he engaged in a conspiracy to launder drug proceeds using digital currencies, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) and 1956(h).  As part of his guilty plea, Gornik admitted that from 2014 to June 7, 2017 (the date of his arrest by federal authorities), he bought and sold controlled substances on the Dark Web.  Employing anonymous screen names, Gornik used multiple Dark Web marketplaces (including Alpha Bay, Trade Route, Abraxas, Evolution, Outlaw Market, and Dream Market) to buy and sell controlled substances.  Specifically, Gornik admitted that he purchased and sold fentanyl and purchased the especially deadly opiate carfentanil using a variety of digital currencies. Gornik also purchased and sold multiple other controlled substances, including thousands of vials of ketamine, oxycodone pills, Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Psilocybin and Psilocin, Amphetamine, Buprenorphine, Methamphetamine, and Naloxone.

According to court documents, agents seized 1.7 grams of carfentanil inside Gornik’s residence on June 7, 2017. Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid approximately 10,000 more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. The 1.722 grams of carfentanil seized in Gornik’s residence could equate to over 86,000 fatal dosages.  Gornik also possessed sheets of fentanyl gelatin tablets (approximately 100 tabs per sheet), which agents seized during the search.  The public record reflects that Gornik obtained 600-1200 fentanyl gel tablets each week for approximately two years from a Dark Web vendor, identified as Steven Wallace George, who resides in Oklahoma.  George, who manufactured pure fentanyl obtained from China into gelatin tablets, was prosecuted by federal authorities in Oklahoma (see Case No. 17-090-R, Western District of Oklahoma). 

As part of his guilty plea, Gornik agreed to forfeit millions of dollars in digital or crypto currency including Bitcoins, Stratis, Ethereum, 2350 Monero, digital currency contained in Gornik’s Bittrex accounts, and digital currency contained in Gornik’s Poloniex accounts.  Gornik admitted that these digital or crypto currency represented drug trafficking proceeds of the offense and were involved in the offense of money laundering over the Dark Web. 

“Dark Web traffickers take note: we will not allow you to lurk in murky corners of the internet, selling and delivering deadly drugs as casually as an Amazon Prime package,” said U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr., who commended AUSA Sherri Hobson and the multi-agency team for “cracking through multiple levels of anonymity mazes to uncover the true nature and extent of Gornik’s drug dealing and money laundering.”

“Battling opioids in the mail is one of the Postal Inspection Service’s highest priorities.  By working closely with our law enforcement partners in operations such as this, we can stop drugs and violence from reaching the American public,” said Nichole Cooper, Inspector in Charge of the Los Angeles Division.

“Today’s sentencing of Gornik demonstrates the commitment of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and our federal partners to bring these criminals to justice,” said Juan Munoz, Acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI in San Diego. “HSI will continue to aggressively pursue those that continue to violate the law and jeopardize the safety of our communities by selling deadly opioids and other dangerous drugs via the Dark Web.”

The investigation was led by U.S. Postal Inspectors in San Diego with the assistance of Special Agents of Homeland Security Investigations.

This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

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Written by John Marsh

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