California Man Pleads Guilty after running "CaliCartel" Darknet Account


Ian Hoffmann, 42, of Bell Canyon, pleaded guilty to the plot to distribute, as CaliCartel,and possess heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine for the purpose of distribution. Hoffman and his co-conspirators operated seller accounts on several dark web marketplaces.

Hoffman admitted selling heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine through multiple vendor accounts, including CaliCartel and BuxomBrunette on Dream Market, Playground on Silk Road 3.1, and GambinoCrimeFamily on Wall Street Market. Hoffman colluded with at least two other people as part of his drug trafficking operations. One of his co-conspirators, Catherine Stuckey, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

The Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) Task Force opened an investigation into the merchant accounts operated by the suspect in 2018. Investigators made the first undercover purchase on October 15, 2018 when they bought two grams of cocaine from “Calicartel” on Dream Market.

In the course of the investigation, federal police officers made covert purchases from the aforementioned merchant accounts while observing the suspects. They watched the suspects drop off law enforcement parcels at post offices in California.

The investigators obtained search warrants for the suspects’ email accounts and Venmo accounts.

When executing a search warrant in Hoffman’s apartment in May 2019, federal officials seized more than two kilograms of heroin, more than seven kilograms of cocaine and more than 19 kilograms of methamphetamine. During the search, cryptocurrencies and a firearm were also confiscated.

U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez will convict Hoffman on January 11, 2022. Hoffmann faces a maximum legal sentence of life imprisonment and a $ 10 million fine. He will likely spend significantly less time in jail.