A Bay Area man, while out on bond after buying MDMA on the darkweb, sold MDMA to a confidential informant. A judge sentenced him to 40 months in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick sentenced Thomas McHale, of Emerald Hills, to 40 months in prison. McHale pleaded guilty to the following charges:
- Possession with Intent to Distribute Lysergic Acid Diethylamide
- (LSD) Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine
- Possession with Intent to Distribute MDMA
- Possession with Intent to Distribute Dimethyltryptamine
“Prior to my first arrest, I had been asked to order from the darkweb a large amount of ‘party drugs’ for people attending the Burning Man festival – up until that point I had only been distributing small amounts to people directly around me,” McHale wrote in an apology letter to the court. He added, “I didn’t distribute during my time on release until the CI started pressuring me to get back involved, and at that point, everything was unraveling around me at a terrifying pace and I was barely able to function day to day let alone stand up to someone threatening me – the CI left the meth that was found at my house two days prior to the search and my arrest.”
In August 2019, United States Customs officers intercepted a package from Germany containing more than 500 grams of ecstasy pills. The package was addressed to an individual identified only as “Cooperating Witness 1” at an address in California.
Law enforcement officers with Homeland Security Investigations contacted CW-1 about the package. CW-1 told the package that a person had paid her between 20 and 30 dollars to receive the package. She did not know the contents of the package, she claimed. She agreed to work with the investigators to catch the intended recipient of the package. CW-1 called the person who had paid her to receive the package and notified her of the delivery. The person, referred to as “HJ,” told CW-1 that she would send someone to pick it up.
Later that day, someone identified only as “Cooperating Witness 2” met with CW-1 to pick up the package. Agents detained CW-2 at the scene. CW-2 waived her Miranda rights and agreed to cooperate with investigators.
CW-2 stated that she communicates with MCHALE through the “Signal” messaging app, which is available for both cellular telephones and computers. CW-2 gave consent for agents to search her phone and voluntarily provided her passcode. Agents were able to view the messages on the Signal app. They confirmed that McHale’s phone number in the Signal app was 650-785-8956. Messages on the Signal app also confirmed that McHale had requested that CW-2 pick up The Parcel from CW-I, and also offered to provide CW-2 with methamphetamine in exchange for picking up The Parcel. Additionally, McHale created a group message on the Signal app to include himself, CW-2, and another person named “Hannah” to further discuss the details related to picking up The Parcel from CW-2. Based on my discussions with CW-1 and CW-2, I believe that “Hannah” is Hannah HJ, the previously-described individual who arranged for CW-1 to receive The Parcel.
CW-2 messaged McHale through Signal and told him that she had the package and would meet him. She drove to McHale’s house and McHale received the package. Once he had the package, law enforcement agents arrested McHale.
Based on the belief that additional suspects were located inside the apartment, agents conducted a protective sweep of the apartment. During that protective sweep, agents saw the following items in plain view:
- distribution quantities of suspected MDMA/Ecstasy pills, including pills matching the shape, color, and design of those in The Parcel, various pills that appeared to be prescription-controlled substances
- a white crystalline substance suspected to be crystal methamphetamine
- a white powdery substance suspected to be cocaine
- McHale’s California Driver License
- loose stacks of U.S. currency
- and various drug paraphernalia to include packaging materials, glass methamphetamine pipes with visible residue, and butane canisters.
Agents observed McHale’s laptop computer during the protective sweep and observed on top of the computer a black plastic container containing a white substance suspected to be methamphetamine.
McHale was temporarily released on a $100,000 bond. During his release, according to the court, he continued to sell and use illegal substances. In January 2020, a confidential informant (CI) for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms told his handlers that he had arranged a meet with McHale.
The CI, accompanied by an undercover agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, met with McHale and purchased an ounce of MDMA for $900. The CI covertly recorded the transaction.
Prosecutors wanted the court to send McHale to prison for five years. “McHale… showed little respect for the Court’s conditions. He tested positive for methamphetamine on at least nine occasions, tampered with drug test patches on at least two occasions, submitted six diluted drug-test samples to Pretrial Services, and continued to possess and sell drugs, resulting in his second arrest,” assistant U.S. Attorney Casey McHale wrote in a sentencing memo.
The judge issued a sentence of only 40 months in federal prison.