Prolific online black market drug dealer takes plea deal

A 40-year-old Bellevue man known as "NOD" on the online black market site Silk Road, where he was considered to be in the top 1 percent of sellers of narcotics, took a plea agreement in U.S. District Court today.

Steven L. Sadler sold cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine through Silk Road, which uses Tor technology to conceal the identity of online users through encryption and redirecting of Internet traffic through multiple volunteer services, and used the Postal Service as a major delivery system for his illegal enterprise. He was arrested last year following an investigation into packages found containing heroin and cocaine.

A postal inspection service inspector first removed a package from circulation in September 2012, according to court documents, which was identified by a narcotics dog as containing a controlled substance. Heroin was reportedly found hidden inside a birthday card and scented markers. Multiple other packages were removed from the mailing stream over the course of the investigation, from various post offices and UPS stores.

Tracking devices were placed on vehicles owned by Sadler and also driven by his girlfriend, Jenna White, who is also alleged to have been involved in the sale and delivery of illicit drugs. The vehicles were tracked to numerous post office locations around the region, including Bellevue, Renton, Olympia, Lakewood, Spanaway, Tacoma, Puyallup, Issaquah, Federal Way, SeaTac, Kirkland, Auburn, Mercer Island and more. Postal workers also identified Sadler as a frequent sender of packages under false names, documents state.

Silk Road was shut down by the FBI on Oct. 2 and its operator, Ross W. Ulbright was arrested on charges of narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering. Sadler and his partner, Jenna White, were also arrested at that time. A search of Sadler's apartment in July uncovered more than a kilogram each of coacaine and heroin, as well as 400 grams of meth, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In the last four months of sales documented on Silk Road, the criminal complaint against Sadler states he sold more than 2,600 grams of cocaine, nearly 600 grams of heroin and 105 grams of methamphetamine.

Under the plea agreement, Sadler faces a mandatory five years in prison and up to 40 years based on the volume of drugs sold. He has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs. The U.S. Attorney's Office also states Sadler is forfeiting a 2007 BMW 525 and $4,200 seized during executed searches. He is set for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez on Sept. 4. Today was his last day to file documents in his case ahead of trial in June.



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