SAN DIEGO — A San Diego man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to taking part in a conspiracy to deliver, distribute and dispense highly potent and often deadly drugs by means of illicit internet marketplaces.
Sky Justin Gornik, 39, also admitted to engaging in a scheme to launder drug proceeds using digital currencies and agreed to forfeit millions of dollars in digital or crypto currencies.
Gornik’s admissions during a hearing before Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal in San Diego will result in a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence, prosecutors said.
As part of his guilty plea, Gornik conceded that from 2014 to the time of his arrest in June he bought and sold controlled substances on the so- called dark web. Employing anonymous screen names, he used multiple darknet marketplaces — including Alpha Bay, Trade Route, Abraxas, Evolution, Outlaw Market and Dream Market — to buy and sell controlled substances, court documents state.
Gornik marketed fentanyl and purchased carfentanil, a particularly deadly opiate, using a variety of digital currencies, according to prosecutors. He also was charged with trafficking in many other drugs, including thousands of vials of ketamine, oxycodone pills, dimethyltryptamine, psilocybin, psilocin, amphetamine, buprenorphine, methamphetamine and naloxone.
To conceal his criminal activity, Gornik allegedly blended and transferred various digital currencies to other virtual “wallets” and accounts.
On the day Gornik was arrested, agents seized 1.7 grams of carfentanil — a synthetic opioid approximately 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times stronger than fentanyl — at his home, court documents state. That amount of the substance could cause tens of thousands of fatal dosages, federal officials said.
Gornik obtained 600 to 1,200 fentanyl gel tablets each week for about two years from a darknet vendor, Steven Wallace George, who manufactured the pure supplies of the drug that he obtained from China into gelatin tablets.
George has pleaded guilty in federal court in Oklahoma to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of fentanyl and is awaiting sentencing.
A mere “speck” of carfentanil the size of a grain of sand can kill a person, U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman noted.
“Here law enforcement agents took 86,000 potentially fatal carfentanil doses out of dark web circulation, along with many other dangerous drugs, including fentanyl,” Braverman said. “We will vigorously prosecute dealers and dark web vendors who cavalierly endanger our community’s residents and first responders by selling deadly opioids.”
Gornik’s sentencing is scheduled for July 16.