Ventura County Man Pleads Guilty to Dark Web Narcotics Distribution Conspiracy

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Ian Hoffmann, 42, of Bell Canyon, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, Hoffmann and his co-conspirators sold heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine using the dark web vendor accounts CALICARTEL and BUXOMBRUNETTE on the dark web Dream marketplace, PLAYGROUND on the Silk Road 3.1 marketplace, and GAMBINOCRIMEFAMILY on the Wall Street Market. Federal agents served a search warrant at Hoffmann’s residence in May 2019, and seized more than 2 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing heroin, more than 7 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing cocaine, and more than 19 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine. Agents also seized a firearm and cryptocurrency as part of their investigation into Hoffman’s narcotics distribution operation.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) Task Force, which includes agents from Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The NCIDE Task Force is a federal task force focused on targeting all forms of illicit dark web and cryptocurrency activity in the Eastern District of California and beyond. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Hemesath and Sam Stefanki are prosecuting the case.

Hoffmann is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on Jan. 11, 2022. Hoffmann faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

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