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A North Carolina man who pleaded guilty to manufacturing Xanax pills and then selling them in large batches on the dark web has been handed a six and half years prison sentence. Matthew Lee Yensan, 25, admitted to the following charges against him: possession with the intent to distribute a quantity of alprazolam, distribution of a quantity of alprazolam by means of the internet, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, conspiracy to conceal transactions with a financial institution with drug proceeds over $10,000, and international money laundering.
Yensan’s illegal business came under the radar of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in July last year. This was after the DEA had received a tip from an informant that Yensan was producing large amounts of Xanax at a storage unit on Gorman Street in West Raleigh. He did so with the aid of many pill presses of which he took to the dark web to sell in exchange for bitcoins. According to the informant, he or she had helped Yensan move numerous pill presses into that storage unit.
The events that transpired compelled federal authorities to keep a close eye on Yensan. A few months later in September, a package was seized by an agent with the federal postal inspector’s service, which was supposed to land in Yensan’s home. The seized package had in it three pounds of high-end marijuana when it was later opened. Three days later, a search warrant on Yensan’s house was issued for federal agents. The search uncovered 12 pounds of high-end marijuana, two pounds of shatter, several prescription medications, and a THC-based product for smoking.
Yensan, the owner of Y Vending, bought the pill presses and Xanax molds from China, of which he paid by sending $1,200 in U.S. currency to the Postal Savings Bank of China, an action considered as international money laundering.
Many firearms including two Glock .40 caliber pistols, a Colt revolver, an MPS 22 caliber rifle, and a Smith and Wesson revolver of which were fully loaded were also seized by federal agents. The agents described positions in which these firearms were hidden as “defensive positions”. Two safes were also found, with one locked and containing a stack of cash totalling $300,000. Computer forensic analysis also revealed that Yensan had $1.5 million in virtual currency.
A fake South Carolina driver’s license which he reportedly used in acquiring the storage unit in Gorman Street was also uncovered by federal agents, together with cryptocurrency storage cards and other digital evidence.
Somehow not satisfied with what they accomplished, federal agents again obtained a second warrant to search another unit at Ample Storage. Agents seized 400 pounds of Xanax precursors and benzodiazepine, 200 to 300 postal shipping boxes containing various amounts of Xanax pills packaged in Mylar bags, three industrial-size pill presses; two electronic mixers; an electronic pill counter and 70,000 counterfeit pills of pressed Xanax.
Yensan was then made to forfeit all his belongings and other earnings he could only have as a result of the illegal business. He surrendered three pill presses, two personal watercraft and a personal watercraft trailer, a 2014 Chevrolet Colorado and a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, bitcoins worth $715,151.97, and $269,068 in cash in addition to the firearms seized.
Yensan is however not the only Raleigh native to get into trouble with the law over illegal drug dealings involving Xanax. Just last month, another Raleigh man was arrested on drug charges after selling Xanax through Snapchat. Reports from the police report state that, the 22-year-old Charles Burney, of 2200 block Lash Avenue, contacted his supplier using the multimedia messaging app.
The police received a complaint that Burney was selling large amounts of Xanax and marijuana from his home, according to an affidavit. Upon interrogation, he stated that he got the drugs from a guy he only knew as “Prophet.” He was charged with possession, and with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule IV controlled substance.