Zachary Madding (right) of Mill Creek was sentenced to five years for dealing heroin over the internet. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)

Zachary Madding (right) of Mill Creek was sentenced to five years for dealing heroin over the internet. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)

‘Dark web’ heroin dealer from Mill Creek sentenced to 5 years

Zachary Madding eluded authorities until police found evidence in the hotel room where he attacked his ex-girlfriend.

SEATTLE — When dealing heroin on the “dark web,” a Mill Creek man went to great lengths to avoid getting caught, U.S. attorneys wrote.

Zachary Madding, 31, encrypted his messages, accepted payments only in cryptocurrency and shipped his drugs in a manner to avoid detection by police dogs.

He went by the handle PerpetualEuphoria.

“Although the Defendant claimed to be selling ‘PerpetualEuphoria,’” wrote U.S. attorney Marie Dalton, “in reality he was peddling addiction, self destruction, and suffering.”

Eventually, Madding was caught. He was sentenced on Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison.

“The person who is before me is not a good person,” U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said during the hearing. “He is a common criminal who is engaged in the most serious behavior…. On the dark web you have no idea who you are dealing with … Because of your actions, there are 1,600 families out there who are going through the pain of addiction.”

Madding’s dark-web business escaped authorities’ attention until police responded to reports of an attack in May 2018 at a Mukilteo hotel.

Inside a hotel room, Madding allegedly shoved Xanax down his ex-girlfriend’s throat and sprayed fentanyl up her nose. Officers responded, found the woman outside and gave her Narcan to revive her.

A jury later convicted Madding of second-degree assault in Snohomish County Superior Court. A judge sentenced him to 2½ years in prison.

In the hotel room, police found fake IDs, shipping labels, drug ledgers, crushed Xanax tablets and the fentanyl spray.

Homeland Security investigators found that Madding had been selling heroin through marketplaces on the dark web, a part of the internet designed to hide users’ activities, since as early as 2016. According to U.S. attorneys, Madding made more than 1,600 sales, totaling at least $72,000.

Madding reportedly advertised discretion.

“We have never had a parcel seized in our vending history,” he claimed.

One reviewer described Madding’s business as “the amazon prime of H.”

Even as authorities took down the marketplaces Madding used to sell his product, he continued to sell, Dalton wrote.

Representing the defense, attorney Scott Engelhard wrote that Madding had been addicted to opioids ever since a dentist prescribed him some as a 17 year old. He quickly moved on to heroin, fentanyl and Xanax.

After high school, he worked as a commercial fishermen until he couldn’t hold the job any longer because of his addiction. He went on to become a low-level drug dealer on the streets. Then he moved to selling online — it was safer, and more lucrative.

The three years Madding spent in jail is the longest he’s been sober as an adult, Engelhard wrote.

“And at 31 years old, he now has the maturity and insight to realize that he is at a crossroads in his life,” Engelhard wrote, “either sobriety, family support and good employment, or daily putting his life in jeopardy and ending back in prison for a very long time.”

Dalton argued that Madding has never respected the consequences of actions. Not in 2014, when he drove under the influence of heroin and hit two teenagers, causing one to suffer a traumatic brain injury. Not in 2018, when he assaulted his ex-girlfriend. And not when he sold drugs to “all corners of the country,” putting people’s lives at risk and contributing to the nationwide opioid crisis.

“Although the Defendant was himself addicted to the product he sold, this addiction neither excuses nor justifies his actions,” Dalton wrote. “Despite this addiction, the Defendant was clear headed enough to operate a sophisticated, lucrative, and furtive narcotics business that relied upon the stealth of the dark web to sell heroin to individuals throughout the United States.”

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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