BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge man has pleaded guilty to running an unlicensed money transmitting business as part of a scheme to aid and abet a conspiracy to distribute drugs and commit international money laundering.
Donovan Barker, 59, made his initial court appearance on Oct. 25 and pleaded not guilty. Then on Friday, May 31, Barker made another court appearance and changed his plea to guilty. He faces a significant prison sentence, as well as a fine and period of supervised release.
According to confessions made during his plea, between September of 2012 and May of 2016, people known to Barker conspired to distribute carisoprodol, tramadol, and other drugs, by shipping them in bulk to the U.S. to be distributed to individual buyers in smaller quantities. Barker reportedly admitted to helping those people by accepting the bulk shipments at his house and mailing the drugs to individual buyers. In January of 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ) says law enforcement agents seized more than 50,000 doses of tramadol and carisoprodol from Barker’s house.
After those drugs were seized, Barker started operating as a money launderer for those involved in the scheme, the DOJ says. As the drugs were sold, Barker would receive payments and wire the proceeds to others. Barker owned and operated several businesses (Quantum Information Technologies, Caring Partners 1, llc, Don Western Sky, llc, Life Positive Services, llc, and Healthy Life 1, llc.), which sold and distributed green tea extracts and herbal supplements, that he used to assist in the drug distribution scheme.
The DOJ says from October of 2012 to February of 2016, Barker received more than $4.6 million in payments from people all over the country who had bought drugs and other substances online. Barker reportedly wired a majority of the money to various foreign bank accounts in the Philippines, India, China, and Canada. Barker is alleged to have been operating a money transmitting business without the proper license and without complying with applicable federal registration requirements.
“Drug traffickers are very creative and use many resources to distribute their products to our citizens across the country. We have resources too. This investigation and conviction yet again demonstrate our willingness to use those resources to dismantle their networks and keep dangerous substances off of our streets. I want to congratulate our prosecutors and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners on their outstanding efforts in obtaining this conviction,” said U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin.
Barker was indicted on charges of aiding and abetting a conspiracy to distribute tramadol and carisoprodol, international money laundering, unlawful money transmitting, and possession of tramadol.