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December 18, 2019Seattle, United StatesNarcotics

Dark web fentanyl dealer sentenced to 7 years in prison

SEATTLE, Wash. – A 40-year-old Seattle man was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to seven years in prison for selling thousands of doses of fentanyl on various encrypted websites, announced Special Agent in Charge Debra Parker of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Seattle Field Office and U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. Matthew Witters was a leading seller of fentanyl on AlphaBay and Dream Market between 2015 and 2017. In December 2018, working together, HSI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) seized $1.1 million in cryptocurrency, cash and other funds Witters admitted were the proceeds of his drug trafficking. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour ordered forfeiture of those funds, and noted Witters sold "an enormous quantity of an extremely dangerous drug."

"Drug traffickers, like Witters, don't care about the dangers these type of illicit substances pose to the public," said Special Agent in Charge Debra Parker. "Fentanyl puts our community at great risk and HSI, with our law enforcement partners, will continue to seek out and remove from our streets those involved in the illicit drug trade."

"Fentanyl traffickers, who put their profits ahead of public safety, justifiably face significant federal prison sentences," said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. "Trafficking in these substances endangers not only the end-user, but innocent bystanders such as postal workers or family members who might come in contact with the highly toxic substance."

According to records filed in the case, Witters came to the attention of law enforcement when his contact information and dark web monikers were discovered in residences connected with drug trafficking in Oklahoma and California. Witters' sales on AlphaBay ended when law enforcement shut-down the site in July 2017.

HSI and USPIS arrested Witters on Dec. 10, 2018, and the following day executed a search warrant for a safe deposit box Witters leased in a Shoreline, Washington bank. Inside was more than $165,000 in currency, a variety of suspected controlled substances, mailing labels and stamps and a loaded Glock 27 pistol.

Witters has been in custody since his arrest. On June 13, 2019, Witters pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Prosecutors agreed to cap their sentencing recommendation at ten years in prison.

The case was investigated by HSI and the USPIS.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Neal B. Christiansen and Thomas M. Woods.

As the largest investigative agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), HSI investigates and enforces more than 400 federal criminal statutes – more than any other U.S. law enforcement agency. HSI special agents use this authority to investigate cross-border criminal activity – including drug trafficking – and work in close coordination with local state and federal law enforcement agencies to target transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) that are bringing dangerous substances, such as illicit fentanyl, into the community.

Updated: 04/06/2021