Three suspects have been apprehended in connection with darknet drug trafficking involving pills pressed with fentanyl.
Two South Florida residents, 31-year-old Luis Miguel Teixeira-Spencer, and 36-year-old Olatunji Dawodu, were reportedly arrested in the Fort Lauderdale area following an indictment. The court arraignment was prescribed by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia for the illicit sale of opioids using dark web sites. Reportedly, the defendants faced charges for the conspiracy to distribute more than 400 grams of an unidentified mixed substance containing fentanyl.
The third suspect, 35-year-old Alex Ogando of Rhode Island, was apprehended on February 23, 2021 on charges relating to the indictment of the two South Florida suspects. All three defendants were then scheduled to make court appearances before a federal magistrate judge.
According to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Spencer and Dawodu ran a vendor platforms that specialized in the sale of pills pressed with fentanyl. The duo’s dark web presence was across various sites, including AlphaBay, Dream, Empire, and Wall Street – payments were received in the form of Bitcoin.
The court learnt that Spencer employed an encrypted messaging service to engage his customers while staying under the radar of law enforcement authorities. The same encrypted communicative devices were used for selling the drugs directly to interested parties.
The entire drug conspiracy involved Ogando, who is said to have been in contact with Spencer and Dawodu in selling the banned substances. The authorities learnt that the three suspects supplied fentanyl pills that they distributed via the U.S. postal Service to customers in the District of Columbia.
The Sun Sentinel, the main newspaper serving Fort Lauderdale in Florida, provided details about the law enforcement operation that led to the arrest of the three suspects.
As reported by the newspaper, Spencer used variations of the moniker “johncarter7” to advertise oxycodone M30 pills for sale – he used the words “pressed with just the right amount of fentanyl” to sell the drugs over the dark web.
The investigation that led to the arrests began with an undercover operation that smoked out the suspects. Agents contacted “johncarter7” in April 2019 to place an order for the drugs. The opioids were reportedly pain in Bitcoin and moved to Spencer’s account on Binance, a crypto platform that offers a wallet for trading in various digital currencies.
The information was used by law enforcement agents to study the drug conspiracy, with detectives succeeding to figure out Spencer’s personal details, including cellphone number, email address, and place of residence.
In addition, the agents discovered that Spencer and his co-accused used a public storage facility located in the city of Davie to operate their illicit business.
Executing the Search Warrants
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service acted upon the multiple search warrants that were issued in South Florida and Rhode Island.
The law enforcement agents confiscated more than $350,000 in cash, and about 2kg of pills containing fentanyl at a Rhode Island location – the agents also recovered packaging materials that were used in the drug conspiracy.
In South Florida, the authorities came across an excess of $12,000 in cash, and almost 1,400grams of pills containing deadly fentanyl, packaging items, and a gun.
While speaking on the latest events, the Acting U.S Attorney Michael Sherwin reflected the role played by technology in challenging law enforcement efforts against drug traffickers. The Attorney blamed the issues in drug investigations to the criminal use of sophisticated technology and cryptocurrency. Nonetheless, Sherwin echoed the government’s resolve to keep fighting the raging opioid crisis regardless of the continued of cyber technology among drug networks.