On the dark web service Dream Market, people could review their illicit drug dealers, like on eBay or Etsy.
Todd Peterman-Dishion, a former Boeing worker from Everett, held a 4.94 rating out of 5, with 1,650 reviews for his heroin and meth, drugs he claimed were so pure they were “not for beginner stuff.”
“Our Meth undoubtedly will be the best youve ever had,” he advertised on the underbelly of the internet, where anonymity and encryption can cloak black market exchanges. “Please be careful, and this is no joke, be very careful w these products.”
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle sentenced Peterman-Dishion, 53, to four years in prison Feb. 12 for mailing drugs all over the country over a period of months. He was caught in 2019. The judge noted he had no idea who he was selling to. For all he knew, the buyers could have been children.
A memorandum signed by his federal public defender outlines how Peterman-Dishion went from a “proud working-class man” and a skilled mechanical technician to a dealer supporting his own habit by sending drugs to strangers.
Peterman-Dishion started his own flooring business at age 18, eventually bringing in close to $90,000 a year putting down tiles, vinyl and hardwood. He was injured in a series of car crashes around 2003, so doctors prescribed him opiate painkillers for spinal problems. He grew “severely addicted” but kept the habit in check for a while as he shifted careers to the aerospace industry, according to court papers.
He worked on the Boeing 787, rewriting a tool control system that prevented spare tools from being left behind on airplanes. Then around 2016, he lost his job, as did his wife, who was also a Boeing coworker.
“For the first time since Mr. Peterman-Dishion was a teenager, at age 50, he was unemployed and without the steadiness and structure that work had given him throughout the years,” Assistant Federal Public Defender Christopher Sanders wrote. “Also, as the back pain returned, so did the need for the opiates. This was the turning point in Mr. Peterman-Dishion’s life, where things got worse for him and got beyond his control.”
He spent two years searching for work. He lost his home in 2017, lived in a car with his wife and fell deeper into addiction. By the time he turned to selling drugs, “his whole life (had fallen) apart,” his attorney wrote.
Federal investigators began targeting dark web vendors in the Seattle area in spring 2018. A few months later, they focused on Peterman-Dishion’s profiles on Dream Market and Wickr, where there was little question about what was for sale:
“**100Gr**HIGH GRADE BLACK TAR HEROIN**”
“****112GR CRYSTAL CLEAR METHAMPHETAMINE******”
The semi-anonymous vendor used an avatar of a warped skull and claimed the drugs came from “our friends to the South.” He boasted of the potency, repeatedly warning of the potential for overdoses.
“please heed this warning, perhaps try half of your regular dose first, and dont be alone, the buddy system should keep you kickin,” he wrote in all caps.
On another post: “just be careful, you can always do more, but you cant go back and do less, we love you guys and want you safe.”
He stored the drugs at an Everett motel where he lived with his wife. Federal agents bought about 28 grams of meth from the user in fall 2018, then heroin and more meth in early 2019.
U.S. postal inspectors and FBI agents put Peterman-Dision under surveillance and watched him drive a PT Cruiser to a post office in north Seattle. He dropped off seven pieces of mail. A postal inspector secretly seized them and opened one of the packages. Inside were 13.9 grams of what tested positive for heroin. A few weeks later, with the help of a tracking device on the PT Cruiser, investigators watched as a fellow resident of the motel drove the car to a Mill Creek post office, where she tried to mail a package of meth.
Agents served a warrant at the motel room in June 2019, finding black tar heroin, crystal meth and MDMA — as well as rubber gloves, handwritten user names and envelopes.
Peterman-Dishion waived his Miranda rights and told the agents he sold the drugs for Bitcoin under the name Subject Moniker. He had a picture on his phone of a warped skull. It showed it had been taken in June 2018, about three weeks before Subject Moniker joined Dream Market.
Investigators believe he started selling drugs sometime in 2018. He was arrested in June 2019. He pleaded guilty in December 2019 to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
Prosecutors asked for a prison sentence of eight years, emphasizing the “staggering 1650 drug sales” in bold and italic letters.
The defense asked the judge to release Peterman-Dishion with no more time behind bars beyond what he had already served. The defendant had made much progress in his life since his arrest, the attorney argued: He moved into a halfway house while awaiting trial, started going to intensive outpatient treatment and secured a housing voucher for an apartment with his wife and daughter.
“If we could incarcerate our way to a drug-free society,” the public defender wrote, “we would have done it before the pandemic and we would have done it by now.”
Judge Lasnik’s sentence fell around the midpoint of the two recommendations.
U.S. attorneys noted dark web drug markets are a relatively new threat to public health.
“These websites expand the serious drug market to all reaches of the country, and indeed the world,” federal prosecutors wrote. “The markets reach those who are too apprehensive to conduct a deal on the street, or those, say in rural areas, who may not have a direct drug supplier. This new frontier is dangerous — and a clear message needs to be sent that those who peddle their poison on the internet — face serious penalties.”
Dream Market closed in spring 2019, saying its files would be moved to a “partner service.”