2 Men Sentenced in Federal Court for purchasing meth from dark web – Two La Crosse men, active in methamphetamine trafficking, received lengthy prison sentences this week in federal court.
Andrew R. Henke, was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for possessing more than one pound of methamphetamine in March 2019, with the intent to distribute.
James A. Conner III, 44, was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison for selling more than one pound of methamphetamine on Jan. 23, 2019, to a confidential informant.
Both men were raised in abusive households where drug use was common, according to court documents.
Henke’s drug offense is “inextricably intertwined” with the circumstances he encountered as an adolescent and a young adult, his attorney, Kelly Welsh, wrote the court.
Welsh wrote that Henke was using marijuana on a daily basis by his junior year in high school and later said that “drug use felt normal to him.”
A few years later, Henke’s father pleaded guilty to a fatal hit-and-run accident. His mother was tied up and sexually assaulted at gunpoint by an ex-fiance. She subsequently returned to drug use and died while Henke was holding her hand, Welsh wrote.
Henke began five years of homelessness, “jumping from one (drug) house to another,” according to Welsh.
Henke began using methamphetamine off the street by eating it, and injecting it by 2013. He was first convicted for methamphetamine possession in 2014 and again in 2016.
When the quality of street meth wasn’t worth paying for, he searched the dark web and found a source of pure meth in California. Not wanting to risk getting caught for small quantities of meth shipped to him, Henke bought in bulk to support his habit and accumulate some cash, which is why he had a large quantity at the time of his arrest, Welsh wrote.
Due to the quantity of drugs, Henke faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years after pleading guilty to a meth charge. Welsh argued that was sufficient punishment for anyone’s first prison sentence.
District Judge James Peterson agreed, placed him on five years’ supervised release and ordered Henke to forfeit the $14,466 in cash found when he was arrested.
Conner also was facing his first prison sentence despite having two prior drug convictions and being a long-term drug user and dealer.
After using marijuana for seven years, his first arrest for marijuana came when he was 21. He was convicted in La Crosse County in 2002 for selling meth, in 2010 for possessing marijuana and received probation. He has two cocaine possession cases also pending in La Crosse County.
He was arrested by La Crosse police earlier this year for selling meth on three occasions to a confidential informant between November 2018 and January 2019. The case was transferred to federal court.
Conner told the confidential informant that he sold about ½ pound of methamphetamine every two or three days, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chadwick Elgersma told District Judge William Conley Wednesday.
“He was a significant dealer of methamphetamine and other drugs in the La Crosse area,” said Elgersma, who asked for a sentence within the advisory guideline range of 57 to 61 months.
Conner’s attorney, William Jones, sought a sentence below the guideline range, saying his client’s “intelligence and maturity,” made him a good candidate for rehabilitation, not re-offending.
Conner told Conley that he rationalized his drug dealing as helping people and putting “food on (his) table, but has come to realize that selling drugs was just prolonging his and their habits.
Conley replied that “an addict always finds a reason to keep using.”
The few ounces authorities recovered from Conner in January vastly under-represents the amount of drugs he has sold in recent years, and Conley hoped Conner knew how close he came to a sentence twice as long as the one imposed Wednesday.
Conley also put Conner on three years’ supervised release and declined to have the federal sentence serve concurrently with his pending La Crosse County cases.