Sunday, September 2, 2018

Operation Darkness Falls Results in Arrest of One of the Most Prolific Dark Net Fentanyl Vendors in the World

Chivis Borderland Beat thank you again 👏Tu Fren SA Express and DOJ press release



An ordinary couple who drove ‘raggedy cars’ are accused fentanyl kingpins

Guillermo Contreras
Holly Roberts showed up a few years ago from East Texas with her two teens in tow, looking to rent a 400-square-foot efficiency on San Antonio’s West Side, landlord William Polson didn’t think much of it.

“She was working at Pizza Hut,” Polson said. “Single mom with two kids.”

Six months later, the family was joined by Matthew Roberts, whom Holly Roberts introduced as her husband.

“He showed up in an old Volvo,” Polson said. “It literally broke down when he got here.”

The pair never flashed much money. They drove older vehicles and even had trouble coming up with a $10 fee for being late on the rent. They never bothered anyone, Polson said, and seemed like good tenants. Holly Roberts told him she had launched an eBay-based business.

Polson’s impression is a far cry from the government’s description of them: dark-net drug kingpins.

Last month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions accused the Robertses, both 35, of leading the largest online fentanyl distribution network in the country. They were arrested in San Antonio during a raid by federal agents in late April.

The raid grew out of “Operation Darkness Falls,” a wide-ranging probe based in Ohio and led by Homeland Security Investigations that targeted sellers of fentanyl and other drugs over the dark net.

Fentanyl, about 80 times more potent than morphine, is being illicitly manufactured, usually overseas, and is largely responsible for the tripling of overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids since 2013, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported last year.

The couple, according to the Justice Department, created and operated several darknet marketplace accounts, including MH4LIFE, which federal agents said in court records, is a reference to “Matthew and Holly 4 Life.”

The feds said the pair operated the accounts on dark-net marketplace websites, such as Dream Market, Silk Road and Darknet Heroes League. Some of those black market sites, including AlphaBay — one of the largest — have been shut down by the FBI over the past several years, according to news reports.

Officials said the Robertses used the accounts between 2011 and May 12, 2018, to possess and distribute fentanyl and other drugs like it, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, LSD, marijuana, Xanax and Oxycodone.

The couple carried out thousands of transactions, and the sites allowed buyers to rate them and their products, much like users of Amazon and eBay, federal agents said in court records.

Dark web sites cannot be reached via regular browsers using the HTTP protocol. Instead, they are located on private servers accessible only via encrypted, anonymizing software such as Tor, The Onion Router. This makes it difficult to know who is operating them or visiting them. Federal officials say the dark net is the new black market — where anything from child pornography to drugs and guns to prostitutes are sold and traded. Law enforcement have shut down some of the sites, only to see them re-emerge with newer version, according to various news accounts.

The Robertses are suspected of obtaining fentanyl and other drugs primarily from China and having them delivered to their home in San Antonio. Then they mailed the items to customers who ordered from them on the dark web, officials allege. In the boxes, the couple placed decoys, such as glow bracelets, samples of makeup and other mundane items, to hide the fentanyl and other narcotics, according to officials.

They also bought postage from third parties with cryptocurrency in an effort to conceal their activities, and used doctored return addresses, for example, a strip center that existed, but not the suite number, court records said.

Darknet marketplace buyers and sellers generally use regular money, like U.S. dollars, to buy digital currency, like Bitcoin, which gives the vendor and customer a sense of 

Additional information, below from the Justice Department press release

Operation Darkness Falls Results in Arrest of One of the Most Prolific Dark Net Fentanyl Vendors in the World

Today, the Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced several arrests, charges and guilty pleas as a result of “Operation Darkness Falls,” a joint operation targeting people and organizations that sell fentanyl and other drugs over the dark net.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was joined by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman and other Justice Department officials in Cleveland today to make the announcement, which included, at the time of their arrest in April, the most prolific dark net fentanyl vendor in the United States and the fourth most prolific in the world—MH4Life.

Making the announcement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “Today’s announcements are a warning to every trafficker, every crooked doctor or pharmacist, and every drug company, every chairman and foreign national and company that puts greed before the lives and health of the American people: this Justice Department will use civil and criminal penalties alike and we will find you, put you in jail, or make you pay.”

“The mechanics of drug dealing has changed, and law enforcement has changed with it,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “These cases demonstrate that those who think they are hiding behind a cloak of anonymity on the dark net will be uncovered and brought to justice for selling the drugs killing our friends and neighbors.”

According to court documents, MH4Life—Matthew Roberts and Holly Roberts, both 35 and of San Antonio—were charged earlier this year with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and other crimes.

The Roberts’ created and operated several dark net marketplace accounts, including MH4LIFE, TRAPPEDINTIME, FASTFORWARD and MRHIGH4LIFE. They operated these accounts on dark net marketplace websites including Dream Market, Silk Road, AlphaBay, Darknet Heroes League, Nucleus and several others.

They used these accounts between 2011 and May 12, 2018 to possess and distribute fentanyl, MethoxyAcetylFentanyl (MAF), other fentanyl analogues, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, LSD, marijuana, Xanax, Oxycodone and other drugs.

The Roberts’ MH4LIFE vendor account on Dream Market had 2,800 verified transactions with a 4.89/5 rating as of May 2018. Dream listed that MH4LIFE had 500 verified transactions on the Agora marketplace and 719 transactions on the Nucleus marketplace. The only products listed for sale by MH4LIFE were illegal narcotics.

MH4LIFE had the highest number of verified transactions worldwide of any fentanyl vendor based upon a review of Dream Market.

The Roberts’ used private messaging, encryption software, Virtual Private Networks and proxies through the TOR network to provide security for the criminal organization. They used decoys, such as glow bracelets and other mundane items, to hide the fact they were mailing narcotics. They also purchased postage from third parties with cryptocurrency in an effort to conceal their activities.

Customers used digital currency to purchase narcotics, which the defendants sent to digital currency exchangers, where the funds were converted into official fiat currency and spent on person goods and services, as well as prepaid Visa and gift cards.

Their criminal case, filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, is pending.

Other cases charged as part of Operation “Darkness Falls” include:

DF44: Robert Kiessling was the third-largest fentanyl vendor in North America as of early this year, based on number of sales. Kiessling was arrested in coordination with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada. A search of his residence uncovered fentanyl and other narcotics tied to the dark net scheme. He was released on bond in Canada and committed suicide.

The Source, BonnieNClyde: Nick Powell is charged with being a Xanax distributor and dark net money launderer.  Powell was arrested and agents seized $438,000 in Bitcoin. He has been charged in federal court in Cleveland with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. The case is pending.

Dark King 22: Antoin Austin, of Euclid, recently pleaded guilty to operating a dark net fentanyl business from an apartment cohabitated with children and within a short distance from an elementary school. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 5.

MotleyFool: James Halpin recently pleaded guilty to his role as a national dark net fentanyl vendor.

Panachecak: Ryan Kluth recently pleaded guilty to crimes involving fentanyl and child pornography via the dark net. His plea agreement calls for a sentence of approximately 10 years in prison.

“HSI and our partners are proud to be at the tip of the spear combating illicit activities and financial crimes on the dark net,” said Steve Francis, special agent in charge of HSI for Michigan and Ohio. “Criminals groups who continue to peddle their illegal contraband via the dark net are increasingly learning that they do not escape the reach of law enforcement.”

“Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners will spare no resource or expense to shine a light on the sale and distribution of illicit and dangerous items on the dark net, that serve to destroy the lives of many through addiction and despair,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Tommy Coke.  “Our law enforcement partnership and operation sends a strong message to those who choose this illegal path, we are watching and will bring you to justice for your crimes against the American public.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony said: “Criminals who think they can use the dark net and cryptocurrencies to hide their actions are wrong, we will continue to work with, and leverage the capabilities of, our partner agencies. The FBI is proud to have partnered with Postal Inspection, HSI and others to identify and disrupt this criminal organization.”

These cases are the result of a joint investigation involving Homeland Security Investigations, U.S Postal Inspection Service, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations. Federal agents around the country, including in the Western District of Texas, Western District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Florida and elsewhere, have assisted in the ongoing operation.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Cronin and Daniel J. Riedl.

If convicted, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to the case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. anonymity.

23 comments:

  1. Postal inspector 'Tommy Coke'! LMFAO!!! :-) :-) :-)

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  2. Wont make a dent in supply!

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  3. 8 years ago i broke 3 of my ribs the doctor i went to gave me a bottle of oxycodone took it for a week since i was in real bad pain once i finished it i didnt sleep for 3 days and 2 nights, thought i had gone crazy lol. Went back to the doc and told him i couldnt sleep he said it was a withdrawl symptom and gave me one more bottle but i threw it away in a dumpster on my way home. Good thing i didnt keep taking them but i can see how anyone can get hooked fast.

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    1. what was the strength? I have been prescribed over the years 5mg or 2.5 mg with 325 tylenol and had no problems for a few weeks usage

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    2. Drugs affect everyone differently. Some have a high tolerance for higher dosages. Body weight affects as well. If you’ve never used them then any little bit hits you hard. - Sol Prendido

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    3. My friend was also prescribed oxycodone for minor surgery. He never took them he is afraid of becoming addicted to it.

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    4. like me with fent. I refused it during surgery because I was fearful. Doc said it is a great medication unless abused ..especially good for surgery, I stuck with versed during surgery. and it worked fine. bjut she did say, if you are in pain during surgery I will have to give it to you.


      Percocet is safe when not abused. I will say 5mg or even 2.5 works well but harder to find. drs. usually rx 7.5 and 10 after surgery and that is what is stocked. I once went to 7 pharmacies looking for it. I felt like an addict on a mission. i have not taken any strength greater than 5/325 and 6 hrs min length between doses being responsible is key. and keep a diary of intake.

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    5. true sol that is why a person should ask what the lowest strength is and begin there. my doc didn't even know there was a 2.5 mg until she looked it up for me

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    6. Versed is a benzodiazepine that is short acting and causes amnesia... much like a blackout...fentanyl is an opioid and is also short acting... the two are given together to induce moderate sedation meaning the patient can be asleep but should be arousable and breathing on their own...doctors use it to do minimally invasive short procedures and the pt is monitored closely with reversal agents at hand... biopsies, heart Caths, dental procedures, colonoscopies (Chivis???) are procedures that use these meds...longer surgeries usually use anesthesia and the patient is on a ventilator...the picture above looks like someone took these meds, blacked out and threw all their shit into the yard or they just got raided by the feds???
      GC
      Everyone over fifty should get a colonoscopy and sooner if have family history of colon cancer...

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    7. Yup, so I was having an ENT procedure. thing is I was given too much versed, I guess since I wasn't getting fent. upon "waking"i had a blackout. now I am scared to use versed which hey have giving me several times. I actually went home, ate, had a few telephone conversations and went to sleep. When I woke up I was told I did these things. and I did not remember anything! It must have been like one of those ambien cases where people go shopping etc and have no clue later. It is real. I would never be alone after having versed. but i never exp that before. I was super sleepy and slept on and off for 15 hrs or so.

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    8. Low dosages 2.5-10mg usually only become physically addicting after 3-6 weeks. 10-20mg more than one a day will lead to slight to moderate withdrawal after a few weeks. 30mg or more a day, you will have a habit in 2 weeks or less. I took 10mg 3x a day for 8 months...when I stopped I had moderate withdrawal for about 3 days...never again...when my back acts up...aspirin and muscle relaxers..

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    9. That's funny it reminds me off how I got addicted to Oxy...8 years ago when I was 11 years old I used to dumpster dive. I can across an unopened bottle of Oxy and took a few... Been hooked ever since use Fent now whenever I can find it

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    10. Hope you hear good results! Thanks for your work...we always tell patients to not make important business decisions etc for 24 hours and no driving... always have someone responsible with you for safety...you may be a light weight lol...
      Gotta possible hurricane headed this way so Paz...
      GC

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  4. I could never become an addict on any opioids like oxys or hydrocodone.more than 2 in a day and i always threw up so i just dont bother with them!

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    1. I knew people that liked getn sick.say theyd get higher.i dont miss them days at all

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  5. They will end up made an example of just like ross ulbricht, life in prison no parole. Death is better over prison in U.S. anyways. A famous narco once said "better a grave in colombia than a prison cell in the united states" Prison in the U.S. is no joke look @ el chapo he is going mad being on lock down for 23 hours a day and never seeing the light of day.

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  6. Last Saturday I tired fentanyl for the first time. I’m not a addict I occasionally pop percs when I come across them. My friends brother had some perc 30s bt said they frm Mexico so I said if they were fentanyl he said yea. He said to take it easy I just popped half. Holy smokes it felt like I popped 3 or more I felt eurphoria for like 10 mins then felt sick I couldn’t keep my eyes open felt them rolling back. I kept thinking to my self if I was od’ing. Anyways I would throw up occasionally for the next 2 days. Hard stuff man

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    1. If you're already willing to take fake OXY's you're screwed. Welcome life as an addict.

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  7. They got away with it for a while.

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    1. And many continue to this day.

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  8. The world just got safer. Good job LEO!!!

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  9. Makes me mad! These people ruin it for so many chronic pain sufferers like myself and others! I've been using fentanyl patches for almost 10 yrs. Never a problem. Use them responsibly. Never used more than directed. Never called in a script early. Always happy to sign a revised pain contract or give a U.A.. always willing to seek out and undergo alternative treatments (injections,physical therapy).two cancers, five back surgeries and waiting for neck surgery. But because of the opioid crisis, my hospital/clinic wants every patient off fentanyl by the years end regardless. An increase in vicodin/oxycodone is not the better alternative for me. Harder on my kidney (lost one to cancer).I don't know what the answer is, but it's extremely unfair to the people with serious medical issues. Cannabis? I'm an addict (clean/sober 15 yrs). Weed is connected to the booze bone,booze bone connected to the coke bone etc..
    Mn

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  10. After a knee replacement surgery & shattered disks in my back / neck they had me on 6 x 10 mg Hydrocodone a day for a few years. I have cut that back to 1 x 5 mg Oxycodone every 6 hours also & plan to keep cutting it back more. This war on opiates is hard on the responsible users that require them to function normally.

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