Drug ring leader instructed distributors how to purchase bitcoin

Quick Take

  • US v. Hagan
  • Nathaniel Hagan plead guilty to crimes arising out of his running a drug distribution ring that dominated the Lansing, Mich. ecstasy market
  • The Court delivered an enhancement to his sentence 
  • The Court specifically called out Hagan’s role in instructing his distributors on how to buy bitcoin

Disclaimer: These summaries are provided for educational purposes only by Nelson Rosario and Stephen Palley. They are not legal advice. These are our opinions only, aren’t authorized by any past, present or future client or employer. Also we might change our minds. We contain multitudes.

As always, Rosario summaries are “NMR” and Palley summaries are “SDP".

[related id=1]US v. Hagan, Case No. 18–1430 (6th Cir. March 25, 2019)[NMR]

Link to decision

When you plead guilty to, or are convicted of a crime, you do not always know what sentence you’ll receive until after a sentencing hearing is held. At a sentencing hearing the judge in your case will determine what sentence is appropriate based on you past criminal history, the severity of your crime, as well as statements from the prosecution, the defense, and in some cases the victim. Depending on the jurisdiction, judges will consult sentencing guidelines, often with wide discretion to enhance or lessen your sentence. This case, U.S. v. Hagan, concerns an appeal of an enhanced sentence.

Nathaniel Hagan plead guilty to crimes arising out of his running a drug distribution ring that dominated the Lansing, Mich. ecstasy market. After he was arrested, Hagan cooperated with law enforcement to explain how his operation functioned. During the course of the investigation law enforcement learned that Hagan “had been distributing MDMA, LSD, DMT, mushrooms, and marijuana for approximately one year. He had at least seven customers, some of whom dealt the drugs Hagan sold them to others.” Hagan would use bitcoin to buy drugs on the dark web, he would sometimes manufacture drugs at his apartment, and he regularly coordinated the activity of his purchasers. At the sentencing hearing, the district court applied two enhancements to Hagan’s sentence. The first was a drug house enhancement, and the second was a leadership enhancement. Hagan f