Additional charge filled against man for robbing pharmacy for Xanax with intent to resell on the dark web – A man accused of robbing a pharmacy while saying he had a concealed weapon received an additional felony charge.
Brad Thayne Bingham, 31, was initially charged with first-degree aggravated robbery, third-degree possession of a firearm by a restricted person, and class-B possession of a controlled substance. According to documents filed with the court, Bingham now faces an additional charge of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a third-degree felony.
Cache County prosecutor Barbara Lachmar said evidence found by police led to the additional charge. Lachmar said police found evidence on Bingham’s phone suggesting an intent to distribute in addition to products believed to be purchased on the dark web.
The initial charges were filed after a robbery of the Intermountain Healthcare InstaCare pharmacy in Logan on March 4. According to a probable cause affidavit, a man entered the pharmacy wearing a hood and sunglasses. He passed a note to a pharmacy employee demanding Xanax and instructed the employee not to call police or press the panic alarm. The man told the employee he had friends outside listening to a police scanner and he would “take care of everyone in the building” if the employee didn’t follow his directions while gesturing to his hip, police wrote.
The man was given about 470 individual pills in three separate bottles valued at around $756, police wrote.
According to the affidavit, Bingham had called the pharmacy several times the day prior asking for Xanax. Police allege that file photos, online photos and surveillance footage were used to identify Bingham. Bingham was arrested outside his residence while riding a bicycle. According to police, he had a .45 caliber handgun in the backpack he was wearing at the time. Police found alprazolam matching the stolen dosages and the clothes believed to be worn during the robbery.
Bingham is being held in the Cache County Jail on no bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 30 for a decision to prelim hearing.
Philly men sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for importing fentanyl from China – Two men, one from Delaware County and the other from Chester County, have been sentenced in a scheme to use the darknet to import dangerous controlled substances into the United States from China.
Stephen Stroh, 56, of Morton and Vaughan Reiser of Landenberg were sentenced to 17 and a half years and six and a half years, respectively.
According to prosecutors, from the spring through December of 2017, Stroh and Reiser conspired to import furanyl fentanyl, methoxyacetyl fentanyl, U-47700, and other synthetic narcotics, from China into the United States.
After receiving the substances through the mail, they researched on darknet websites to figure out how to manufacture counterfeit pills. Some of the pills were made into fake oxycodone that contained fentanyl and Adderall that contained methamphetamine.
“Stroh and Reiser are dangerous drug traffickers, pure and simple – it makes no difference that they were using the Internet as opposed to working street corners. If anything, it makes their criminal conduct even worse, given the reach of the Internet,” William McSwain, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said. “The drugs these defendants were importing and distributing are extremely deadly, compounded by the fact that they were intentionally mislabeling them. A critical aspect of my office’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic is stopping and holding accountable international drug traffickers like these defendants, who richly deserve their significant prison sentences.”
They also used the dark web to order machinery and other parts from China to turn the materials into pills. The pills were then distributed to customs through the Internet and by mail.
Stroh and Reiser were paid in bitcoin and used cell phones, computers and self-destructing messaging apps to communicate.
“As Philadelphia continues to deal with a staggering opioid epidemic, these sentencings should serve as a reminder that trafficking in this poison will result in severe consequences,” said William S. Walker, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for Philadelphia. “Additionally, HSI Philadelphia’s Cyber Crimes Investigations Task Force and our partners remain vigilant in protecting our communities from all cyber-enabled drug trafficking.”
Man charged with possessing and distributing child porn – The discovery of a cell phone containing images of child pornography resulted in an East Bernstadt man being arrested Thursday morning.
The press release from the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office states that the cell phone was found by an unnamed person who found several images of minors engaged in sexual acts. Investigators then traced the cell phone to 29-year-old James M. Bargo of East Bernstadt and went to a residence off U.S. 25, two miles north of London.
Bargo admitted using the phone and downloading the videos and pictures of minors performing sexual acts from the dark web. The ages of the children in the pictures and videos ranged from six months old to teenagers. Bargo was charged with 40 counts of possession/viewing matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor, 40 counts of distribution of matter portraying sexual performance by a minor, first offense.
Bargo is held under $10,000 cash bond.
The case was investigated by Detective Kevin Berry, Lieut. Chris Edwards and Detective Kyle Gray. Assisting in the investigation were Major Chuck Johnson, Sgt. Brett Reeves, Deputy Robert Reed and Detective Bryon Lawson.
Child Porn website DarkScandals seized by EUROPOL, admin arrested in the Netherlands – Dutch National Michael R. M. a/k/a Mr. Dark, 32, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia for his operation of Dark Scandals, a site on both the Darknet and Clearnet that featured violent rape videos and depictions of child pornography. The nine-count indictment was unsealed today along with a parallel civil forfeiture action. The defendant was charged with various counts of Distribution of Child Pornography, Production and Transportation of Obscene Matters for Sale or Distribution, Engaging in the Business of Selling or Transferring Obscene Matter, and Laundering of Monetary Instruments.
“Darknet sites that profit from rape and the sexual exploitation of children are among the most vile and reprehensible forms of criminal behavior,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Shea. “This Office will not allow predators to use lawless online spaces as a shield. We are firmly committed to working closely with our partners in the Netherlands and around the world to bring to justice the perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes.”
“The types of crimes described in this indictment are the most disgusting I’ve encountered in 30 years of law enforcement. It is a special kind of evil to prey on and profit from the pain of others,” said Don Fort, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “Criminals should know if you leave a digital footprint, we will find you. If you exploit our children, we will put you behind bars. If you thought you were anonymous, think again. The dark web is not quite as dark today due to the hard work of IRS-CI and our partner agencies.”
“The obscene material distributed by the defendant victimizes innocent and vulnerable people in our communities,” said Alysa Erichs, acting executive associate director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute these crimes, using all available resources to ensure that additional vulnerable victims aren’t exploited.”
The pleadings allege that the defendant, who resides in the Netherlands, operated the Dark Scandals sites that hosted and distributed videos and images featuring nonconsensual and violent sexual abuse. Dark Scandals began operating in or about 2012. Dark Scandals boasted over 2,000 videos and images and advertised that it offered “real blackmail, rape and forced videos of girls all around the world.” Dark Scandals offered users two ways to access this illicit and obscene content, which was delivered in “packs” by the defendant via email to customers to download. Users could either pay for the video packs using cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, or upload new videos to add to the content of the Dark Scandals sites. The Dark Scandals sites included specific rules for the video uploads to the sites, which included “real rape/forced” content, and stated a preference for “own made material.” The site specifically forbade “fake, amateur…or acted movies,” rejecting content if it did not portray real sexual violence. The defendant allegedly received almost 2 million dollars from selling this obscene and illicit content.
A forfeiture complaint was also unsealed today. The complaint alleges that law enforcement was able to trace payments of bitcoin and ethereum to the Dark Scandals site by following the flow of funds on the blockchain. The 303 virtual currency accounts identified in the complaint were allegedly used by customers across the world to fund the website and promote the exploitation of children and other vulnerable victims. The forfeiture complaint seeks to recover these funds and return the illicit funds to victims of the crime through the restoration process. The forfeiture complaint also seeks to forfeit the previously seized website domains associated with DarkScandals.
The charges in the pleadings are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The investigation was jointly investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (Washington, D.C.) and Homeland Security Investigations (Colorado Springs and The Hague). The Dutch National Police of the Netherlands, Europol, and the German Federal Criminal Police (the Bundeskriminalamt) provided assistance and coordinated with their parallel investigations.
The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lindsay Suttenberg and Zia M. Faruqui, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Olinghouse, Supervisory Paralegal Specialist Elizabeth Swienc and Paralegal Specialist Brian Rickers, and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Additional assistance has been provided by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Goodhand, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Youli Lee, and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.
Child Porn Website DarkScandals has been seized by EUROPOL, DOJ press release can be found here
Canadian man found Guilty off all charges in furanyl fentanyl case – A 25-year-old Yellowknife man has been found guilty of four charges related to his use and sale of furanyl fentanyl.
At the start of his judge-only trial in August, Darcy Oake pleaded guilty to trafficking furanyl fentanyl, a synthetic drug designed to have similar effects to the deadly opiate fentanyl. On Wednesday morning, Northwest Territories Supreme Court Justice Shannon Smallwood also found Oake guilty of possessing the drug for the purpose of trafficking, illegally importing the drug into Canada, and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
The last charge was related to an overdose a friend of Oake’s suffered after he gave her some of the drug in exchange for some prescription tranquillizers she had. Texts entered as evidence during the trial showed the woman, who knew Oake had ordered 10 grams of the drug on the dark web, had been pressuring Oake to let her try it.
The woman, who admitted she had been addicted to fentanyl, said she passed out soon after she got home after snorting a line of the drug in the garage of Oake’s family home. She remained unconscious for more than 24 hours before being taken to hospital.
The woman’s eagerness to try the drug was not a significant factor in the analysis that led Justice Smallwood to find Oake guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
“He knew there was a very real risk she could overdose,” said Smallwood. “He knew this because he had overdosed 12 hours earlier.”
During the trial it came out that, minutes after receiving the parcel he had ordered, Oake snorted two lines of the drug. He then took his pet pitbull for a walk. He passed out during the walk and was taken to hospital.
Oake’s parents sat through the whole trial and were in the courtroom for the verdict Wednesday. His mother dabbed away tears as Smallwood delivered her decision.
Earlier in the trial, his father testified that after the first overdose, Oake agreed to get treatment for his drug addiction. He was to take the first step, a counselling appointment at the Tree of Peace, later that week. But the morning of the appointment he overdosed again.
Oake admitted ordering the furanyl fentanyl on the dark web using a browser that hid his digital identity. But he said he thought it was coming from a supplier within Canada because the web site was in English and prices were in Canadian dollars.
Smallwood said Oake may not have known the drug was coming from Asia when he placed the order, but he did know later. He was given tracking numbers but found they were not on Canada Post’s parcel tracking website. Smallwood noted that he then Google searched the numbers and found they were connected to a tracking site in Hong Kong or China.
Oake testified he then contacted the web site to ask where his order was. The vendors said to give it a few more days, but then agreed to send another order.
“It was apparent he wanted the furanyl fentanyl and was not concerned whether it was coming from outside Canada,” said Smallwood.
Smallwood also dismissed Oake’s testimony that he ordered the drug for personal use. Texts police recovered from his phone showed he was in need of money and was arranging to sell it to pay off debt.
Oake is facing penitentiary time for just the two drug charges he was convicted of. Though only a few people in the N.W.T. have been convicted of trafficking fentanyl, they have received stiffer sentences than those trafficking in cocaine.
In 2016, for example, a street-level dealer selling fentanyl to support his own drug addiction was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.
After Smallwood delivered her 90-minute decision, Oake’s lawyer said Oake had instructed him that morning to apply to have any guilty verdicts stayed because of the amount of time it has taken to conclude the case.
Oake was charged almost three-and-a-half years ago. Part of the reason for the delay is that Oake switched lawyers a year ago, just before his trial was originally scheduled to be held.
No date has been set for hearing Oake’s application to stay the charges due to the delay.
Philadelphia man Sentenced to 20 years in prison for trafficking Counterfeit Xanax pills via the dark web – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Michael Gordon, 32, of Philadelphia, PA, was sentenced today by United States District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond to serve 20 years’ imprisonment, followed by three years’ supervised release, for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The Court further ordered the defendant to pay over $2.7 million in restitution and to forfeit over $300,000.
From approximately December 2017 until October 2018, Gordon was involved in a sophisticated scheme to obtain counterfeit Xanax on the dark web in order to sell the counterfeit pills for a profit. He took numerous steps to conceal his illegal activity: for example, he coordinated the mailing of packages in covert ways, having them addressed to fictitious recipients and mailed to a variety of locations Gordon himself controlled in an attempt to thwart any investigative efforts. Additionally, he paid for the counterfeit pills using Bitcoin, re-sold the counterfeit pills for a profit, and then laundered the proceeds of his illicit drug business in order to conceal the true nature of the funds obtained from the scheme. Before he was stopped by law enforcement, the defendant illegally obtained hundreds of thousands of these highly addictive pills and re-distributed them. He pleaded guilty to the charges in June 2019.
“Simply put, Gordon placed the well-being of others at risk in order to satisfy his own greed,” said U.S Attorney McSwain. “Xanax can be highly addictive under normal circumstances, but the counterfeit version of Xanax can be even more addictive and potentially deadly. Gordon did not think twice about this danger, as he was focused solely on how to profit from the misery of others. He is now in prison, where he belongs.”
“Abuse of benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, is a critical issue for a greater Philadelphia-area that is already experiencing an opioid abuse epidemic. Add in the trafficking of counterfeit prescription drugs made of unknown substances from China and, now, we have significantly increased the risk to vulnerable consumers,” said William S. Walker, acting Special Agent in Charge for HSI Philadelphia. “Homeland Security Investigations and our law enforcement partners will continue to work tirelessly to investigate and remove dangerous narcotic traffickers from our communities.”
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia’s Cyber Crimes Investigations Task Force (C2iTF) – a multi-agency initiative targeting cyber-enabled criminal activity. The Task Force is comprised of investigators and analysts from the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Drug Trafficking Area Initiative, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Postal Service – Office of the Inspector General, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania National Guard, and the U.S. Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Beam Winter.
Philadelphia man sentenced to 20 years in prison for selling counterfeit Xanax press release by DOJ can be found here
CA Man gets 10-years sentence for scheme to obtain, resell prescription drugs – A Riverside County man was sentenced Monday to 10 years in federal prison for running a narcotics distribution outfit that, in part, stole at least nine doctors’ DEA numbers and dates of birth that he used to obtain oxycodone and other prescription medications that he later sold on the darknet.
Christopher Lazenby, 29, of Homeland, was sentenced in Los Angeles by U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson.
Lazenby pleaded guilty in September to charges of possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine and oxycodone, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Lazenby perpetrated his scheme by stealing the identities of at least nine doctors and one physician’s assistant. He then used the Drug Enforcement Administration’s online registration system to change the addresses of doctors to mailboxes he had rented in South Los Angeles and Carson. Lazenby changed the address of one of the doctors to show his medical office was a room at a Motel 6 in Inglewood, according to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court.
With official records showing new addresses for the doctors, Lazenby forged the doctors’ signatures on counterfeit prescriptions and ordered oxycodone, hydrocodone and Adderall to be sent to the addresses he controlled, he admitted in a plea agreement. After he received the narcotics, Lazenby used the dark web and Craigslist to advertise the drugs for sale.
Lazenby was arrested on Oct. 3, 2018, at his hotel room in Torrance, which he had rented using an alias. During searches of his hotel room and car, law enforcement seized narcotics, including 196 grams of methamphetamine, oxycodone pills, prescription pads in the names of the identity theft victims, and rubber stamps in the names of the victim doctors, evidence showed.
Playpen Child Porn Website Member is sentenced to 7 years in federal prison – A Chicopee man was sentenced to federal prison on Friday for using a secret child pornography bulletin board on the dark web, officials said.
Victor Stepus, 51, was sentenced in federal court in Springfield to serve seven years in federal prison and 10 years of supervised release. Stepus has been in custody since he was arrested in 2015 after investigators learned he had regularly used his home computer to download child pornography, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.
Stepus was an active user of the now-defunct “Playpen,” a secret child pornography bulletin board that advertised and distributed child pornography online. The site also included discussions surrounding the sexual abuse of children, Lelling’s office said in a statement.
The website existed on the dark web, which let Stepus access the site anonymously, prosecutors said.
When authorities seized Stepus’s personal computer, they found more than 8,000 images and 33 videos of child pornography, including images showing “the sexual abuse, including bondage, of girls as young as eight years old.”
Stepus admitted to authorities that for several years he used his home computer to access and download child pornography two to three times per week. When investigators obtained logs from the Playpen site, they found Stepus was an active user for six months during 2014 and 2015, Lelling’s office said.
In November, Stepus pleaded guilty to three counts of receiving child pornography, and one count of possessing child pornography.
Dream Market Heroin Vendor and Tattoo Shop owner pleads guilty to Distributing Heroin and Methamphetamine on the dark web – Jason Keith Arnold, 46, of Chandler, Arizona, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute heroin and methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Arnold, along with co-defendants David White, 50, and Alicia McCoy, 31, both of Chandler, operated the vendor accounts “TheSickness” and “SicknessVersion2” on Dream Marketplace, through which they conducted more than 3,000 transactions for heroin and methamphetamine to customers throughout the country. Dream Marketplace was a website on the darknet that allowed individuals to sell narcotics and other illegal goods and services. Arnold and his co-conspirators mailed heroin inside Haribo Gold gummy bear packages from post offices in the Chandler region. Some of these packages were mailed to locations in the Eastern District of California.
Arnold is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11 by U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. Arnold faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison, and a fine of up to $10 million. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Charges against White and McCoy are pending. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is the product of investigations by the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) task force, which is composed of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Grant B. Rabenn and Paul Hemesath are prosecuting the case.
This case was brought in conjunction with the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J‑CODE) Team. Established within the FBI’s Hi-Tech Organized Crime Unit, J-CODE is a U.S. Government initiative announced in January 2018, aimed at targeting drug trafficking, especially fentanyl and other opioids, on the darknet. Building on the work initiated with the takedowns of Silk Road and AlphaBay, the FBI’s J-CODE team brings together agents, analysts, and professional staff with expertise in drugs, gangs, health care fraud, and more, and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners from across the U.S. Government, to focus on disrupting the sale of drugs via the darknet and dismantling criminal enterprises that facilitate this trafficking.
Dream Market Heroin Vendor pleads guilty – DOJ press release can be found here
Oxy Vendor from Maine was sentenced to two years in prison for selling counterfeit pills – A Surry man was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Bangor to serve two years in prison for trafficking in counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer that is 5,000 times more potent than heroin.
Federal agents found 91 pills in Adam Fitzherbert’s bedroom when they executed a search warrant at his home in February 2018, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for Maine. The pills, when tested, were found to contain carfentanil, a drug used as an anesthetic for large animals that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
In recent years, Carfentanil has been linked to opioid overdose deaths elsewhere in Maine as well as in Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Fitzherbert, 55, admitted to federal officials to purchasing the pills through an online “dark web” site called Dream Market, according to federal court documents.
Judge John Woodcock sentenced Fitzherbert, who pleaded guilty last September, to serve two years in prison and then three years of supervised release.
Prior to searching Fitzherbert’s home, police had the property off Route 176 under surveillance after finding drugs that belonged to Fitzherbert in a storage unit in Blue Hill.
Police were called to a storage rental facility in Blue Hill in November 2017 after an employee found five 5-gallon buckets full of marijuana buds and “a small open safe that contained pharmaceutical drugs and a number of small vials and pill capsules with powder on them,” according to federal court documents. Fitzherbert approached a police officer who was at the storage facility investigating the matter and initially told him he wanted to rent a unit there but later admitted the drugs in the unit were his, police said.
Among the drugs were several 30-milligram pills made to look like oxycodone — Fitzherbert told police there were 480 of them — that turned out not to contain oxycodone but cellulose, an organic compound found in plants, according to police.
Fitzherbert was charged with two counts of trafficking in counterfeit drugs, one for each incident, but one charge was dropped as a result of a plea agreement with prosecutors. He is required to turn himself in to the federal Bureau of Prisons by 2 p.m., April 15, to begin serving his sentence.
Fitzherbert’s prior criminal history includes a 2002 conviction in Aroostook County on a charge of unlawful sexual contact in a case where the victim was less than 14 years old, according to state records. Because of the 2002 conviction, Fitzherbert has to remain registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life.