United States Attorney Steven Russell announced that Nicolas A. Decosta, 27, of California, was sentenced today in federal court in Omaha, Nebraska, for conspiring to distribute pharmaceutical controlled substances. United States District Judge Brian C. Buescher sentenced Decosta to imprisonment for 78 months. Upon release from prison, Decosta will be required to complete a 3-year term of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
In the fall of 2019 investigators accessed an online dark net marketplace called “Empire Market” where they observed vendor “norco_king” advertising the sale of pharmaceutical controlled substances such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. Over the course of the investigation, investigators made a series of controlled buys of pharmaceutical controlled substances from norco_king on the dark net using an undercover identity. Norco_king accepted payment via Bitcoin and later Monero, both cryptocurrencies. The parcels containing the drugs were mailed from California to an undercover address in Omaha. Investigators reviewed surveillance video from the originating post offices in the vicinity of Desert Hot Springs, California, and identified Decosta’s codefendant, Jamal Holdman, as a suspect.
On June 21, 2021, investigators served a warrant to search Holdman’s residence in Desert Hot Springs. Upon searching the residence, investigators seized approximately 21,000 pills including a significant number of pharmaceutical controlled substances in Holdman’s bedroom including opioids Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Morphine Sulfate, Hydromorphone, Tapentadol, Methadone, and Tramadol, several amphetamines including Lisdexamfetamine (commercially known as Vyvanse), and several benzodiazepines such as Lorazepam and Alprazolam. In addition, investigators seized 420 pressed “M30” pills, as well as postal service priority mailboxes and pre-paid labels for orders to include one that was addressed to be shipped to Nebraska. Although the color and markings on the “M30” tablets indicated they contained Oxycodone, they were later confirmed through laboratory testing to contain Fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance.
Holdman told investigators that he packaged and shipped the controlled substances and named Nicolas Decosta as the supplier of the drugs and dark net site vendor. Investigators corroborated this information and arrested Decosta. Holdman was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 68 months on April 12, 2023.
This case was investigated by the United State Postal Inspection Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration.