(STL.News) – James Heyward Silcox III pleaded guilty to all three counts in an indictment charging him with illegally importing controlled substances, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Tatum King, Coast Guard Investigative Service Special Agent in Charge Kelly Hoyle, and Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Operations Brian J. Humphrey. Silcox entered the guilty plea without a plea agreement. The plea was accepted by the Hon. Jon S. Tigar, United States District Judge.
Silcox, 42, of Alameda, Calif., was originally charged by complaint on September 18, 2019. The complaint alleged that he illegally imported Tramadol from Singapore and Germany to post office boxes he held. Tramadol is a Schedule IV controlled substance and narcotic.
Silcox, a U.S. Coast Guard Commander, was arrested on the complaint on September 17, 2019, at Coast Guard Island, in Alameda.
During the change of plea hearing, the government advised the court of evidence that Silcox began purchasing tramadol in 2017 online from an unknown person he believed was in Singapore. The government offered further evidence that Silcox had received shipments of tramadol from three separate overseas suppliers from 2017 to 2019, and sent shipments to downstream buyers of 500-1000 pills per month, which Silcox received from his overseas suppliers at his P.O. boxes. According to the government, Silcox used end-to-end encrypted communication applications and email services to communicate with his overseas suppliers and his downstream domestic customers, and used crytpocurrency to make payments.
On September 26, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Silcox charging him with three counts of importation of a Schedule IV narcotic drug, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 952(a) and 960(b)(6). Pursuant to the guilty plea, Silcox pleaded guilty to all three counts.
Silcox faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000, for each count in the indictment. However, any sentence would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. His next court appearance has been set for September 25, 2020, which is a status hearing concerning the sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. Griswold is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Mimi Lam. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations; the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area-Transnational Narcotics Team (HIDTA-TNT); the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General; and the Coast Guard Investigation Service. The prosecution is part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force National Heroin Initiative to combat the opioid crisis.