Veronica Dittman, along with her co-conspirators Rick Schiffner and Devin Langer, has been sentenced to over 20 years in prison for operating multiple darknet pages selling illicit drugs. From January 2022 to August 2022, the trio ran various darknet monikers, advertising controlled substances including crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills. They made over 1,300 sales of controlled substances, distributing at least 800 grams of counterfeit fentanyl pills, 500 grams of methamphetamine, 16 grams of heroin, and 7 grams of cocaine. Sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III, the three individuals have been held accountable for their involvement in the darknet drug trade.
Overview of the case
In a recent case, a woman named Veronica Dittman from Tempe, Arizona was sentenced to 5 years in prison for her involvement in operating multiple darknet pages that sold illicit drugs. Alongside Dittman, two co-conspirators named Rick Schiffner and Devin Langer, both based in Phoenix, Arizona, were also sentenced. The three individuals ran various darknet monikers such as “TrustedTraphouse,” “GoldenTrails,” and “PopcornPlug” across several darknet markets.
Description of darknet
The darknet is a portion of the Internet that hosts darknet markets, which can be seen as a black market where illegal products and transactions take place. These hidden commercial websites facilitate the trade of not only drugs, but also weapons, counterfeit currency, stolen credit card details, forged documents, unlicensed pharmaceuticals, steroids, and other illicit goods.
Definition of darknet markets
Darknet markets, as mentioned earlier, are online marketplaces that operate within the darknet. They provide a platform for individuals to buy and sell illegal goods and services anonymously. These markets often use cryptocurrencies as a means of payment to maintain privacy and anonymity.
Veronica Dittman and Co-conspirators
Veronica Dittman’s role in the operation
Veronica Dittman played a significant role in the operation of the darknet pages and the distribution of illicit drugs. She primarily worked with Rick Schiffner to process orders placed on the darknet, package the drugs, and handle shipping. Dittman also operated her own vendor accounts on the darknet under the usernames “VirtualPeddler” and “Darkette”. She made a total of at least 74 sales of controlled substances through these accounts, with the majority of sales involving fentanyl.
Overview of co-conspirators Rick Schiffner and Devin Langer
Rick Schiffner and Devin Langer, both based in Phoenix, Arizona, were Dittman’s co-conspirators in this operation. Schiffner was involved in the advertising of controlled substances on the darknet marketplaces, while Langer played a role in the overall operation as well. Schiffner was sentenced to 150 months imprisonment, while Langer received an 84-month prison sentence.
Operating darknet monikers
Veronica Dittman and her co-conspirators operated under various darknet monikers, including “TrustedTraphouse,” “GoldenTrails,” and “PopcornPlug.” These monikers served as their online identities on the darknet markets, allowing them to conduct their illegal activities under the cloak of anonymity.
Illicit Drug Sales
Controlled substances advertised
The conspirators advertised and sold various controlled substances on the darknet markets. These substances included crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills. Of particular concern was the false labeling of the fentanyl-laced pills as oxycodone, potentially misleading customers about the true nature and potency of the drugs.
Quantity of controlled substances distributed
During the course of the conspiracy, the conspirators made over 1,300 sales of controlled substances through their darknet accounts. They distributed at least 800 grams of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, 500 grams of methamphetamine, 16 grams of heroin, and 7 grams of cocaine. These significant quantities highlight the scope and seriousness of the operation.
False labeling of fentanyl-laced pills
A particularly alarming aspect of the illicit drug sales was the false labeling of fentanyl-laced pills as oxycodone. The conspirators purposely misled potential customers by describing the pressed pills containing fentanyl as “Not normal OxyCodone”. They informed customers that these pills were much stronger than pharmaceutical oxycodone and warned them to be careful. This false labeling put unsuspecting users at risk of overdosing on the highly potent fentanyl.
Veronica Dittman’s Vendor Accounts
Veronica Dittman’s own vendor accounts on the darknet
In addition to her role in the operation, Veronica Dittman operated her own vendor accounts on the darknet. She used the usernames “VirtualPeddler” and “Darkette” to sell controlled substances directly to customers. Through these accounts, Dittman made at least 74 sales of controlled substances, with a majority of them involving fentanyl.
Number of sales made
Veronica Dittman made a total of at least 74 sales through her vendor accounts on the darknet. These sales contributed to the overall volume of controlled substances being distributed through the operation.
Majority of sales involving fentanyl
The majority of Veronica Dittman’s sales through her vendor accounts on the darknet involved fentanyl. This highlights the significant role she played in the distribution of this highly potent and dangerous substance.
Darknet and Darkweb
Explanation of the darknet
The darknet is a part of the Internet that is intentionally hidden and non-indexed by traditional search engines. It is accessible using special software, such as The Onion Router (TOR), which anonymizes users’ identities and allows for encrypted and private communication. This hidden nature of the darknet makes it attractive to individuals engaged in illegal activities.
Comparison to the clearnet
In contrast to the darknet, the clearnet refers to the regular, publicly accessible Internet that most people use on a daily basis. The clearnet is indexed by search engines and allows for more transparent and visible online activities.
Definition of darkweb
The term “darkweb” is often used interchangeably with the darknet, but it specifically refers to the websites and content hosted on the darknet. These websites can only be accessed using special software, making them less visible and harder to monitor by law enforcement agencies.
Sentencing of Co-conspirators
Rick Schiffner’s sentencing
Rick Schiffner, one of the co-conspirators, was sentenced to 150 months imprisonment. This significant prison term reflects the seriousness of his involvement in the operation and the harm caused by the distribution of illicit drugs.
Devin Langer’s sentencing
Devin Langer, another co-conspirator, was sentenced to 84 months imprisonment. Like Schiffner, Langer played a role in the overall operation and contributed to the distribution of controlled substances through the darknet.
Duration of imprisonment for each defendant
Veronica Dittman, Rick Schiffner, and Devin Langer were all sentenced to significant prison terms for their involvement in the operation. Dittman received a 5-year prison sentence, Schiffner received 150 months imprisonment, and Langer received 84 months imprisonment.
Law Enforcement Agency Involvement
Announcement by U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia made an official announcement regarding the sentencing of the individuals involved in the case. This announcement highlighted the successful prosecution of the case and the cooperation between multiple law enforcement agencies.
Agencies involved in the case
Several law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation and prosecution of the case. These included the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office.
Assistance from other agencies
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia expressed its appreciation for the significant assistance provided by other law enforcement agencies. These agencies included the FBI Phoenix Field Office, USPIS Phoenix Division, Homeland Security Investigations Phoenix, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, FBI Las Vegas Field Office, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Prosecution of the Case
Role of Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Call
Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Call played a crucial role in the prosecution of the case against Veronica Dittman and her co-conspirators. Call had the responsibility of presenting the evidence and arguing for the appropriate sentences for the defendants.
Location of related court documents
Related court documents and information about the case can be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. These documents provide more details about the charges, evidence, and legal proceedings associated with the case.
Search process on PACER
To access the court documents on the case, individuals can search for Case No. 1:23-cr-31 on PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). PACER is an online system that provides access to federal court records and documents.
Press release on another darknet vendor sentenced for distribution of fentanyl-laced pills and crystal meth
In a related case, involving a different individual, a darknet vendor was sentenced to 42 months in prison for the distribution of fentanyl-laced pills and crystal meth. This highlights the ongoing efforts by law enforcement to combat the illegal activities conducted on the darknet and the severity of the consequences for those involved.
Press release on Venezuelan men pleading guilty to high seas cocaine conspiracy
In another case, two Venezuelan citizens pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine on board a vessel in international waters. This demonstrates the global reach and impact of drug trafficking networks and the efforts made by law enforcement agencies to dismantle them.
Press release on leading Crips member sentenced for methamphetamine conspiracy
A leading member of the Crips gang was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his involvement in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy. This case exemplifies the collaborative efforts between law enforcement agencies to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking.
Contact details of U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia
For further information or inquiries regarding the case, individuals can contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. The contact details for the office can be found on their website.
Email address for press inquiries
Press inquiries related to the case can be directed to the email address provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. This contact information enables media outlets to seek additional information or arrange interviews.
Archives and legal policies
Information about archives and legal policies related to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia can be found on their website. These resources provide access to previous press releases, documents, and information related to the office’s work.