U.S. Department of Justice
Press Release

Hobart Resident Sentenced to 50 Months in Federal Prison for Selling Drugs Via the “Dark Web;” Forfeits $1.5 million

 

By - Mar 2nd, 2020 11:00 pm

United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on today’s date, Christopher D. Bania, (age: 27) of Hobart, Wisconsin, was sentenced to 50 months in federal prison for possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances.

According to the plea agreement, Bania sold narcotics including MDMA (“Ecstasy”), cocaine, DMT, ketamine, LSD, MDA, methaqualone, marijuana, and a variety of other controlled substances. To make his sales Bania utilized dark web marketplaces, including Dream Market, Zion, Wall Street, Hansa, Trade Route, and Alpha Bay. Alpha Bay and Hansa were shut down by law enforcement in July of 2017.

The dark web is a part of the internet that is unreachable by traditional search engines and web browsers. Websites on the dark web have complex web addresses generated by a computer algorithm and must be accessed using special software that is capable of connecting to “The Onion Router” network, or “TOR” for short. The TOR network is encrypted and routes internet traffic dynamically through a series of computers around the world, concealing the true Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of the computers accessing the network and thereby making internet use virtually anonymous. This perceived anonymity has led to a proliferation of criminal activity on dark web marketplaces, where users can find vendors, like Bania, offering illegal goods and services for sale.

In handing down his sentence, Senior U.S. District Judge William C. Griesbach noted that despite Bania’s lack of a prior criminal record, his involvement in the community, and the outpouring of support from friends and family who packed the courtroom, his was a “crime of significant magnitude” that required a substantial prison sentence. Judge Griesbach also noted while Bania was himself a user of controlled substances, his activities on the dark web functioned primarily as a “money making enterprise.”

“This four-plus year sentence for a first-time offender sends a clear warning about the seriousness of drug trafficking on the dark web,” said United States Attorney Krueger. “Just because one deals narcotics from home does not mean one can escape the law. I commend the outstanding work of the multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that investigated this case and brought it to conclusion.”

In addition to the prison sentence, Bania was ordered to forfeit cash and cryptocurrency valued at approximately $1.5 million. Following his prison sentence, he will spend 3 years on supervised release.

This case was a joint investigation of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Wisconsin Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation, the Brown County Drug Task Force, the Hobart/Lawrence Police Department, and the Oneida Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Scott J. Campbell, Benjamin W. Proctor, and Daniel R. Humble.

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