Belleville man convicted of using ‘dark web’ to get illegal drug from Europe

Provided

A 31-year-old Belleville man has been convicted in federal court of using the “dark web” to obtain an illegal party drug known as ecstasy or MDMA from a source in the Netherlands and then mailing the drug to someone in Mascoutah, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Delon Echols was found guilty of attempted possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance by a federal jury in East St. Louis last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Echols, who remains in custody, is being represented by St. Louis attorney Nick Zotos.

Zotos said he and Echols believed the evidence presented was “unpersuasive” but that the jurors disagreed with their position.

Prosecutors said Echols used the U.S. Postal Service to send drugs to an “unwitting individual” in Mascoutah.

“In August of 2019, the individual learned about the package containing narcotics and immediately went to the Mascoutah Police Department,” the news release stated. “Police discovered that 911.5 grams of MDMA was concealed in vacuum sealed bags inside whey protein jugs to avoid detection.”

The news release said the Mascoutah resident testified in the trial that Echol’s actions “put both her and her family at risk.”

Echols, who faces up to 20 years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 10 before U.S. District Judge Stephen P. McGlynn, the news release stated.

“This case serves as a great example of how a concerned member of the public working with law enforcement can help make our communities safer,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe in a statement. “I join with our law enforcement partners in thanking her for her courage in coming forward.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karelia S. Rajagopal and Kimberly S. Arshi.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s website says MDMA is also known as molly. It comes in a pill or powder form and can lead to “liver, kidney and cardiovascular failure and death.”

A U.S. Justice Department report states “the dark web has emerged as an important hub of criminal commerce, a fully functional marketplace where hidden customers can buy from hidden sellers with relative confidence.”