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Seattle-area 'Silk Road' drug dealer pleads guilty to drug conspiracy

SEATTLE — A prolific online drug dealer who distributed cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine through the digital black market website "Silk Road" pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs, following an investigation by the Seattle-Tacoma Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST Seattle), including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Steven Sadler, 40, of Bellevue, now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 40 years in prison because of the volume of drugs he sold. According to the plea agreement, Sadler admitted he began selling drugs on the Silk Road website in 2012 under the screen name "NOD." The site was well-known by criminals as a source for multiple types of contraband. He took his orders online and shipped his illicit products through the U.S. mail. According to investigators, Sadler was one of the top-ranked sellers on the site.

When police searched his apartment in July 2013, they found a stash of cocaine and heroin, both weighing more than a kilogram each, as well as 400 grams of methamphetamine. They also found a semi-automatic pistol hidden under the mattress in his bedroom, court records state.

As part of the agreement, Sadler will forfeit a 2007 BMW 525 and $4,200 in cash seized by investigators. He is schedule to be sentenced Sept. 4.

BEST Seattle is comprised of members from HSI; U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Field Operations; the U.S. Secret Service; the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service; the FBI; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Port of Seattle Police Department. BEST Seattle investigates smuggling and related crimes and combats criminal organizations seeking to exploit vulnerabilities at the Seattle and Tacoma seaports and adjacent waterways.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington is prosecuting.