Leader of nation-wide heroin and cocaine distribution ring receives 188-month sentence.
Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today the sentencing of an Indianapolis night club manager for conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine, distribution of heroin and cocaine, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Pierre Burnett, Jr., 44, manager of Epic Ultra Lounge (formerly Tantrum), was sentenced to 188 months imprisonment by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in federal court.
“Gone are the days when criminals could cloak their drug trafficking activity behind the anonymity of the Dark Web,” Minkler said. “Our office is committed to ferreting out and prosecuting individuals engaged in cybercrime in all its many forms.”
What began as an investigation into drug trafficking on the Dark Web led to the ultimate arrest and conviction of Burnett, a/k/a “Doe,” the leader of a major heroin and cocaine distribution ring in the Indianapolis area and elsewhere. In October 2013, federal law enforcement agencies shut down the Dark Web site Silk Road. Through a joint investigation by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), law enforcement learned that Lee Gray, a Camby, Indiana, resident at the time, was selling heroin and cocaine in exchange for bitcoins on Silk Road, and later other Dark Web sites such as Black Bank. Gray shipped the drugs to customers located throughout the United States using the U.S. mail. Gray then laundered his bitcoins using foreign bitcoin-exchange companies to wire U.S. currency into multiple bank accounts in his own and other names. He also sold bitcoins on the Dark Web to other users in exchange for cash that the other users mailed to him.
Gray was indicted on July 7, 2015, and pleaded guilty on December 22, 2015, to conspiring to distribute heroin, possession with intent to distribute heroin, and money laundering. He will be sentenced on October 4, 2017, before U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Gray obtained his supply of heroin and cocaine from Burnett. From at least 2012 through August 18, 2015, Burnett obtained heroin and cocaine directly from a Mexican source of supply, and would pay the Mexican source by delivering large bags of money to Mexican couriers. Burnett distributed the drugs to drug distributers, including Gray and Alan Duncan (a/k/a “Al Gore”), another drug distributor in the Southern District of Ohio, who sold these drugs within and outside of their local communities. Gore received a sentence of 150 months imprisonment in Ohio. Burnett is responsible for distributing at least 17 kilograms of heroin and 25 kilograms of cocaine during the course of the conspiracy.
This case highlights the collaborative efforts by multiple organizations. This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Indianapolis Office, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio and the DEA Dayton Office assisted in the investigation.
“DEA is committed to saving lives by identifying, disrupting and dismantling those criminal drug organizations who poison our communities with heroin and fentanyl,” said Greg Westfall DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge. “DEA will exhaust all resources and work with our partners to bring those to justice who try and find ways to elude law enforcement detection to hide their criminal activities. Law enforcement and other partnerships working together will prevail.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service takes very seriously its mission to deter the illegal use of the mails for any criminal activity,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Cynthia Mormon, Detroit Division. “These crimes negatively impact each and every community and household, and we stand committed to working together to identify, investigate and bring to justice those who would attempt to mask their criminal activity through the use of the mail thereby violating the sanctity of the seal.”
According to Assistant United States Attorneys MaryAnn T. Mindrum and Cindy J. Cho, who prosecuted this case for the government, Burnett must serve five years of supervised release following completion of incarceration.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Southern District of Indiana