My name is Sam Bent. I have went by many other names or handles when hacking like killab and 2happytimes2. I am no novice to the criminal justice system. Before my federal indictment, I spent 15 years running from the police in Massachusetts. At 17, I caught a charge for Assault and Battery with intent to murder, conspiracy to commit murder, evasion of police, and a few misdemeanors mixed in there. I had been there with two other men, who ran and got away. I did not disclose their names.
My lawyer delayed the process so that it would be a very long time until I was either forced to take a plea deal or go to trial. This was so that the victim had time to recover. My attorney was correct. Many months later, the victim had no visible signs of injury.
I had a pretty eclectic background as far as jobs and careers go. I have done everything from construction work, cooking for restaurants, information technology (IT), information security (Infosec), operational security (OPSEC), supervising cashiers, and managing loss prevention.
During those years of working a legitimate job, I also had a girlfriend. I took care of our three children. I cooked, cleaned, and even homeschooled them. As time went on, my girlfriend – Tracy Baker had gone from a kind, bubbly personality to a miserable, bitter person.
When she was not working on the weekends, she was smoking cannabis, watching tv, or on Facebook. She did not spend time with our children, or do anything proactive. In an angry fit of rage one day, which she was prone to she informed me that she had cheated on me starting 7 years ago (at the time we had been living together for 10 years). She was constantly miserable and aggravated, and it made sense, that this was the result of her guilt between lying to me and sleeping around with various individuals for that 7-year period, while I raised the three children, and made sure they did their homeschooling and ate well.
I knew that as miserable as she was, it would get worse. I had already made plans to leave, her confession put them into hyperdrive. We lived in a rural part of Vermont, and I knew that she would not be giving me a ride to work, if I suddenly got a legit job because at that point she knew what was up. I wanted to leave her. I knew that some local job also would not pay well (probably about 10 – 11 bucks and hour at the time).
I did not want to leave the children alone with her either, because she at that point hardly knew them from being absent for years. So, I made the decision to became a darknet vendor selling a variety of illegal drugs.
A darknet vendor is essentially someone who sells drugs (on a hidden part of the internet) for cryptocurrency. My experience in IT, Information Security, and Operational Security made it easy for me to succeed as a darknet vendor. I did not make this decision on a whim. I did thorough due diligence for up to six months before making this decision. I put together contingency plans and strategized on the best way to begin implementation and how to scale up the operation if needed. I thought my plans were good. My operational security policies were firmly in place.
This was something I decided to do before she told me about her cheating and lying. I knew I could make good money doing it, and be able to stay at home with the children (this was prior to everyone working remotely as covid did not exist yet). My goal was to make at least 175,000, this would let me buy a house for 100,000 and have enough funds to figure something else out after that.
Know your enemy
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The primary enemy of an international drug trafficker is law enforcement. With the above quote in mind, I set out to learn everything I could about how law enforcement catches international drug dealers on the darknet. I reviewed news articles about former darknet vendors who had been caught. I studied how they had been caught and the security mistakes they had made. I was determined not to make the same mistakes. My freedom depended on it.
I had set up my operation to a point where I thought it was air-tight. I had security policies in place with reactionary contingencies to mitigate any potential threats by law enforcement. It took me six months to get everything in place. Still, once I had everything set, I knew that the federal government would have to break their own laws to be able to arrest me, which I thought would invalidate my arrest. In the end, I was half right and half wrong.
Hiring an employee
My cousin, at the time, was working what she considered to be a dead-end job. The only part of my plan that I would need help with was logistics, which was for someone to mail out the packages. That was her only role. She quit her job and moved up to Vermont to work for me. She knew that when I applied myself to anything, I did well.
She knew if she followed my lead, we would be making money quickly. She had seen me selling coke, crack, and cannabis almost a decade before as a street dealer and knew that I knew that world. She also knew that I studied security, information technology, and operational security for ten years.
I paid her a commission for every package she brought to the post office and mailed based of the value of the contents. I also paid for her housing and car expenses. In addition, I also supported her drug and alcohol habits. Her instructions were to mail the packages at specific post offices depending on the return address on each package.
After all the initial legwork was done, things started to progress. We had more orders coming in at a faster rate. The system that I had envisioned worked like a well-oiled machine. My reputation on the Darknet was good in terms of customer satisfaction and reviews. Scammers did not like me much, because on the forums when they tried to get people to conduct business outside of the escrow on site I called them out. Djeneba and I were both happy with how the operation was moving along.
Over time she grew complacent. She got too comfortable. Money was being made. One of my cousin’s most serious mistakes was mailing dozens of packages to the same post office. Common sense would tell you (along with my specific instructions and security policies) to mail only a few packages at a single post office to not cause suspicion from the postal inspector.
I did not trust her common sense, which is why I gave her specific instructions on what to do. Her drug addiction made her lazy and turned her into a liar. As a result of her ‘liabetes’, and poor work ethic, and my poor judgment on hiring her and failing to supervise her properly, soon, I received a knock on my door that will echo in my ears for years.
Then one day, I got a knock on the door. I figured it was the Jehovah’s witnesses that stopped by on occasion because, aside from that, no one ever visited me. When I opened the door, I was greeted by Department of Homeland Security Special Agents and dozens of masked individuals with MP5s, tear gas, and other tactical equipment.
The man closest to me said, “My name is Jamie West. I am a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security. We have a federal search warrant.” They had an arrest warrant for nobody. In fact, at the time of the raid, the only one they had suspected of anything was Djeneba. I let them in and then told them that I was the only adult male in the house and that my three children were also in the house, and two adult females, my cousin, and my ex-girlfriend.
This was my first experience with Federal Agents, and it wasn’t very comforting. It was all happening so fast, like a bad dream that you can not wake up from. That said, I had my contingency plan that I had agreed upon with my cousin prior to starting the business. They searched my house, found a safe, and asked for the combo, which I gave them even though I knew drugs were in it. I told them that “all the drugs are mine. I am a DarkNet Vendor”. This had all been part of the original agreement that I made with my cousin that I would accept all the condemnation if we were to be raided.
Months after receiving my indictment in the mail, I was granted a “Franks Hearing,”. A “Franks Hearing” is when you can prove to the judge that law enforcement broke the law to arrest you. My lawyer Stephanie Greenlees was exceptional. A Franks Hearing is difficult to get, something at the time I did not know or fully comprehend. I was one of those people who had one scheduled. This was significant. It meant that because the search they conducted of the original package was illegal (they did not have a warrant), then they, in turn, used that acquisition of drugs to apply for a federal search warrant, that my entire case would be thrown out. I was excited that I would beat my case and be free. However, little did I know, my cousin, Djeneba Bent, was cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security, among other federal agencies.
How do the Feds ask you to tell on someone
One word: Proffer. I didn’t. My lawyer called me up one day and said, “The United States Attorney wants you to come in to give a proffer”. I asked what that was because I had never heard of it. In response, she said, “It’s when you come to the courthouse and tell the prosecutor and some federal agents everything about your crime. The meeting will be recorded. In addition, if you lie you will be in more trouble.”
“That sounds like snitching to me,” I replied. She said “We don’t call it that”. I told her I did not want to do that, and she respected my decision. I had gotten myself into this mess, and I would accept responsibility. It was what I said I would do from the start, and there was no sense having anyone else go to prison over it. Also, I worked with very serious individuals. Some of whom ran cartels in other countries. Not exactly the type of people you want to “proffer” about.
I was determined to fight this case without cooperating with the government, I had put myself were I was at and had known the consequences from it PRIOR to engaging in this business, as I had researched many other Darknet vendors and what there outcomes were.
The Court would have dismissed my ten-count indictment if my cousin had not proffered against me. I felt like I had no choice but to take a plea deal of 108 Months from the United States Attorney.
He told my attorney that I could potentially receive 10-20 years and that this time would be mandatory, meaning no good time. Worse yet, if I lost this case at trial by denying this plea deal that I would be looking at even more time and fines.
If my cousin had not cooperated, our case would have been dismissed. So, I signed a plea deal for 108 months as a max. A 10-year (or nine-year) max sounded better than a 10 – 20 year mandatory minimum. Chief Judge Crawford gave me 60 months at sentencing with three years of probation to follow. My cousin got three years of probation due to her cooperation in prosecuting me with the Feds.
Had she told them nothing, we would have not have even had a case.
When I self-surrendered to Federal prison at Devens, the BOP sent me first to the SHU, which is a segregated part of the prison typically used for punitive action against inmates and convicts alike. After a few days, I was assigned to live in Unit JA. This prison is a medical center for inmates in need of medical attention. After eight months, I was put into SHU for “quarantine” because of COVID, and because I was being sent from the medium security part of the prison to the minimum security part of the prison due to the BOP finally doing there jobs and recognizing that all my criminal cases in Massachusettes had been settled (they were settled months before my incarceration in fact).
I was supposed to be in quarantine for 14 days. On a COVID quarantine, there is no rec or leaving the cell. You are locked in 24/7. They “forgot” about me, and I stayed there in that cell without coming out for almost 40 days.
Keep in mind that they kept people in isolation in SHU, too, so they put you into place with a shared HVAC system with people who had COVID to “make sure you don’t get, or have COVID”. This is the mentality of the BOP. We call it “Backwards On Purpose”.
You will need to get used to this reality if you ever have the unfortunate disposition to be facing federal time. I was left there for 36 days, on 24-hour lockdown (NO hour of rec, ever). Once every two weeks, they would let me use the phone for 15 minutes, then lock me back in for another ½ a month if I was lucky and if the correctional officer felt like it. After that, I finally made it to the camp.
This was done by writing cop-outs or “communications with staff” to all staff members, asking why I was still being held when quarantined for 36 days when I was only supposed to be there 14 days. Captain Rhodes came to see me because I caused enough of a headache to merit a visit the next week I was at the camp.
At The Camp
Throughout my entire stay, I studied law and the policies of the BOP to ensure that they could not take advantage of my ignorance. I worked for a few disbarred lawyers serving time, learning to write and file motions for different “good guys”. By this I mean men who had not told on anyone, and were not sex offenders.
I studied the law daily. I enrolled in a correspondence paralegal course from an accredited institution. I currently maintain a 93% GPA. I used my time productively and helped a few good men get a reasonable amount of time off their sentences and stand up for their rights.
My wife, Katelyn Bent, was with me through everything, from pretrial to sentencing. She also stuck by my side during my entire imprisonment.
She would drive down to visit me every weekend. I remember telling her one time that she should not strain herself, driving 6-8 hours every weekend to see me. Her response? “It’s not just for you!”. She is hands down the most kind-hearted, understanding, outspoken, and intelligent woman I have ever known.
I studied the BOP’s program statements. Their policies are Implemented by adaptation of legislation. Policies they hardly ever follow and, in most cases, don’t know.
Then with that knowledge, I wrote a 200-page motion to the United States District Court for Compassionate Release. I did it by myself, with the encouragement of my wife. I went up against a great lawyer, the United States Attorney, and won. My wife one day, after I told her that the BOP had denied me, Cares Act relief told me: “You cannot just give up. You need to fight back! Go out swinging!”. She did not only offer that support. She also sent me articles and helped me with my research when I could not find something on the limited law library computers.
I won my freedom through self-education, self-discipline, perseverance, and the support of my wife. Now, I look forward to helping others get ready to go through the same. My goal with this is to ensure that they, too, do everything they can to come out victorious over this unfair system and to empower themselves before self-surrendering or to have the know-how to not only “make it through” their journey through the razor wire bureaucracy but to come out better for it and to have the least amount of surprises when facing federal incarceration.
Don’t be mislead
Federal prison consultants that try to say they specialize in “white collar” criminals are only telling you they don’t know anything else besides that. You will be wearing the same color shirt as the drug trafficker, rapist, and murderer in prison. Thinking you’re different will not end well for you. Make sure that when you do hire someone, they have been someplace besides a camp. This is especially true if they have never actually been to a BOP facility but rather only to a private federal prison.
The misconception that if you committed a white-collar offense, you should have someone who committed a crime like that is a toxic notion because currently, more than half of the offenders in the BOP are drug offenders, and .2% are in for “white-collar crimes”. See: BOP Offender Statistics
It would be best to get exposure to someone in the majority because they are the majority. You will have to deal with “blue-collar” offenders much more than other “white-collar” offenders, even if you are the latter. Thinking your different, better, or are more entitled because of your crime of conviction is not only a falsehood, but can lead to serious issues.
Hiring someone who has never been to a BOP institution, but instead to a country club that’s a private prison will get you false information and leave you with a total absence of what the majority of prisoners are, do think, and act like.
Family support is one of the biggest things that you can have. I was lucky to have a very supportive and caring wife throughout my incarceration.
Even if you choose not to go with any of my services, I truly hope that you prepare yourself with someone qualified to tell you about what life is like inside, with people who have been to more places than just a camp and who have done so recently because as time goes on the BOP changes, and evolves.