Date: January 27, 2020
U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles sentenced Donovan J. Barker of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to 57 months in federal prison following his conviction for operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. The Court further sentenced Barker to three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment, and the United States anticipates that the Court will soon order forfeiture in the amount of $642,373.
According to admissions made during Barker's plea, between September of 2012 and May of 2016, individuals known to Barker conspired to distribute carisoprodol, tramadol, and other substances, by shipping the pills in bulk into the United States, to be broken down into smaller quantities that would then be shipped to individual purchasers. For a time, Barker helped the individuals by accepting the bulk drug shipments at his home and mailing the drugs out to individual purchasers. In January of 2013, law enforcement agents seized more than 50,000 dosage units of tramadol and carisoprodol from Barker's residence and advised him to stop assisting the effort to import the substances into the United States.
Following the January 2013 seizure, Barker began operating as a money transmitter for the individuals involved in the scheme. As drug sales were generated, Barker would receive the proceeds of the sales (i.e., accept payments for the drugs from the individual buyers) and wire the proceeds to other individuals and businesses. Barker formed and operated several business entities, including Quantum Information Technologies, Caring Partners 1, LLC, Don Western Sky, LLC, Life Positive Services, LLC, and Healthy Life 1, LLC that he used to assist the scheme.
In total, from October 2012 through February 2016, Barker through his businesses, received more than $4.6 million in payments from individuals all across the United States. This included more than $1.3 million in credit card payments made to him via electronic transfer, and more than $750,000 in checks and money orders, from individuals all across the United States who had purchased controlled substances and other substances over the internet. As Barker received the money, he wired the vast majority of the money out to other individuals and businesses, through hundreds of transactions. For instance, he paid the shipping charges incurred by members of the conspiracy, which exceeded $100,000. Moreover, on more than two hundred (200) different occasions, Barker transmitted proceeds from the operation to foreign bank accounts in the Philippines, India, China, and Canada. Accordingly, Barker was unlawfully and knowingly operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, in violation of federal criminal statutes enacted to combat the use of money transmitting businesses to transfer the proceeds of criminal activity.
"The sentencing of Donovan Barker for his role in smuggling funds from illegal drug transactions in and out of the United States is a victory for the American public and a defeat to drug traffickers everywhere. The special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation continue in their mission to disrupt the flow of ill-gotten gains that is the life-blood for these criminals," said Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman III, Atlanta Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigation. "We will continue to be relentless in our mission to dismantle these drug trafficking organizations and bring the criminals who run them to justice."
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael R. Sader said, "Criminals who attempt to thwart the efforts of law enforcement through money laundering schemes and businesses will not triumph. The DEA, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to pursue all avenues to deny drug traffickers and money launderers the one thing they value the most – their profit. The sentencing of this individual should put on notice those who engage in this type of illegal activity."
"The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to ensuring the U.S. Mails are not used as a tool to distribute narcotics to our communities," said Adrian Gonzalez, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge of the Houston Division. "The sentence handed down today should serve as a reminder to other perpetrators engaged in this type of criminal behavior that we will work closely with our law enforcement partners to bring them to justice."
U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin stated, "In our effort to stop sophisticated criminals who facilitate and finance the illegal distribution of controlled substances, we will use every legal tool at our disposal, including long-term financial investigation and the money laundering and money transmitting statutes. I commend the collaborative efforts of all of the agents and prosecutors who worked on this case and made this unique prosecution a success."
This matter is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with critical assistance from the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Alan A. Stevens, Kashan Pathan and Robert Piedrahita. The investigation received valuable assistance from the Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—Homeland Security Investigations, and the Louisiana State Police, and other federal, state, and local agencies.
The investigation is another effort by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Program that was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack against organized drug traffickers. Today, the OCDETF Program is the centerpiece of the United States Attorney General's drug strategy to reduce the availability of drugs by disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations and money laundering organizations and related criminal enterprises. The OCDETF Program operates nationwide and combines the resources and unique expertise of numerous federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated attack against major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.