3 Los Angeles County Residents Arrested for Worldwide DarkNet Meth Shipments
LOS ANGELES – A multi-agency effort took down a trio involved in a DarkNet drug ring. Three Los Angeles County residents are in custody on federal charges for allegedly shipping methamphetamine around the world.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles led the investigation, with substantial assistance from the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
As a result, the case alleges that the DarkNet helped the trafficking ring obtain drugs and offer narcotics for sale. Large quantities of methamphetamine were shipped to buyers at worldwide destinations, including the Philippines, New Zealand, and Poland.
A criminal complaint filed March 1st named the conspiracy’s director, Michael Alan Goldberg (34), of Panorama City, Goldberg’s wife Donnica Mae Rabulan (31) of Panorama City, and James Caleb Kueker (41) of Hollywood Hills.
It is reported that Goldberg allegedly directed the conspiracy, even after being taken into federal custody in June 2018. Crypto currency such as Bitcoin was used on the DarkNet to buy narcotics, then ship 59 orders of meth and other illegal drugs.
“Rabulan, who in addition to the conspiracy charge faces four counts of distributing methamphetamine, was arraigned Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court,” said ICE. “Kueker, who also is charged with one count of possession with the intent to distribute ketamine, as well as with one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, was also arraigned on Monday. Rabulan and Kueker each entered not guilty pleas and were ordered to stand trial June 4.”
The cyber crimes returned an eight-count indictment by a federal grand jury on March 22nd for drug trafficking and distribution conspiracy. Goldberg was arrested on an unrelated fraud case during the course of the conspiracy, and was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison.
Federal law enforcement was alerted by a Van Nuys shipping company security manager upon discovering seven parcels slated to go to the Phillipines. The contents cumulatively held 21 kilograms of meth, along with phone numbers and contact info linked to Goldberg.
“The indictment alleges that Rabulan shipped methamphetamine to international buyers” said ICE. “Kueker collected tens of thousands of dollars in illicit proceeds from the sales on Goldberg’s behalf.”
HSI’s March 11th search warrants revealed suspected drug labs and a loaded AK-47-style rifle at Kueker’s homes in Valley Village and Hollywood Hills. A safe deposit box registered to Kueker held over $150K in suspected drug proceeds.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roger Hsieh and Ian Yanniello of the General Crimes Section and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Waters of the Asset Forfeiture Section are the prosecutors.
ICE concluded, “If convicted on all counts, each defendant faces a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison. The conspiracy count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. The count alleging firearm possession in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime carries a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.”