Navy officer pleads guilty, faces up to 20 years over drug charge

A Navy commander with 23 years of military service pleaded guilty to a drug charge Friday in San Diego federal court, admitting that he conspired to buy and sell ecstasy and other drugs on the dark web for at least 18 months that ended with his March arrest at his home.

Adolph Garza, 54, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine up to $500,000 when he’s sentenced in December. He pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances by internet.

The San Diego resident admitted using the dark web to make multiple purchases of ecstasy, ketamine, cocaine, amphetamine and other controlled substances from August 2016 to March of this year.


Garza was arrested during a March 7 raid at his Hillcrest condo, according to Sherri Walker Hobson, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California.

While serving the search warrant at Garza’s residence, inspectors from the U.S. Postal Service and special agents from Homeland Security Investigations and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service seized ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine, amphetamine and other controlled substances. They also discovered sealers, packaging and mailing materials, including DVD cases that were used to conceal what was being shipped.

According to court documents, a package of ecstasy from the Netherlands was bound for Garza’s condo unit on Aug. 12, 2016, when it was intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection investigators at the Chicago International Mail Facility.

It was the first of more than a dozen packages sent to Garza that was found to contain illegal drugs, according to postal inspector David Jones.

Four days after the first package was seized, another shipment of ecstasy was seized at the same Chicago airport.

The other shipments of ecstasy bound for Garza’s address were discovered at airports in Chicago, San Francisco and New York, and at mailboxes in San Diego.

According to investigators and federal prosecutors, Garza’s name and address were also discovered on two separate drug ledgers during investigations into other dark-web drug distributors.

Garza is set to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant. Although he faces up to 20 years in federal custody, prosecutors agreed in a plea deal to recommend “the low end of the advisory guideline,” though it’s not yet clear what the advisory guideline will be.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 10.

Riggins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.