Three Los Angeles residents are in custody on federal charges alleging they ran an international methamphetamine ring, buying and selling large quantities of the drug on the darknet, prosecutors said Tuesday.
All three were charged with conspiracy to distribute meth and other trafficking offenses when a grand jury returned an eight-count indictment on March 22, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release.
The defendants are identified as:
• Michael Alan Goldberg, 34, of Panorama City. Prosecutors accuse him of being the operation’s head and say he continued running it after being taken into federal custody in June 2018.
• Donnica Mae Rabulan, 31, of Panorama City, who is Goldberg’s wife
• James Caleb Kueker, 41, of Hollywood Hills
Rabulan was additionally charged with four counts of distributing meth, while Kueker is facing one count of possession with intent to distribute ketamine and one count of firearm possession in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Both pleaded not guilty on Monday, officials said.
Goldberg, who is also facing one count of intentionally distributing meth, is expected to be arraigned April 8.
The group allegedly bought drugs on the darknet with Bitcoin, then shipped them out internationally. Prosecutors say they’ve uncovered 59 such shipments.
While the sales were still ongoing, Goldberg was arrested in an unrelated fraud case that landed him with 42-month prison sentence, officials said.
An employee with a shipping company in Van Nuys alerted authorities when he or she noticed a suspicious Philippines-bound shipment last May. The seven packages were later found to contain around 46 pounds of methamphetamine and included contact information with telephone numbers linked to Goldberg, according to court documents.
Rabulan was in charge of shipping out the products, while Kueker collected the proceeds on Goldberg’s behalf, prosecutors said.
Suspected drug labs and a loaded AK-47-style rifle were found when authorities served search warrants at Kueker’s homes in the Hollywood Hills and Valley Village on March 11, officials said.
More than $150,000 was also allegedly recovered from a safe deposit box registered to Kueker.
Rabulan and Kueker have been ordered to stand trial on June 4. A trial date for Goldberg is expected to be set at his arraignment.
All three could face a maximum possible sentence of life in federal prison if convicted on all counts, prosecutors said.