Empire Market Vendor DrXanax arrested in Canada by RCMP – The suspect, Arden McCann, 32, is now the subject of an extradition request to the United States, where he could be sentenced to a long prison term.
The resident of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, on the South Shore, appeared at the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday, before Superior Court judge Johanne St-Gelais. He is charged with drug trafficking and money laundering in the United States. McCann remains in custody pending further legal proceedings. He is scheduled to return to court in April.
In 2015, Arden McCann was arrested as part of an investigation by the Laval police, which led to the seizure of five pill presses and two million counterfeit tablets, mainly Xanax. McCann’s role then seemed peripheral to the Laval file. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and received a 90-day jail sentence with a $ 2,500 donation to charity. Two of his co-defendants in this case were the sons of police officer Ian Davidson, the “SPVM mole” who had tried to sell the secret list of police informants to the Mafia.
But in the case for which he was arrested on Wednesday and is threatened with extradition, McCann’s role would be central.
According to American court documents, the Montarvillois was active on different dark web sales platforms, such as AlphaBay, Dream, Wallstreet, Nightmare and Empire.
The dark web is the underground internet, a set of sites accessible through software that protects the identity of users.
On these sales platforms, McCann used different pseudonyms, such as DrXanax, Xanaxlabs, TheMailMan, RCQueen as well as Pasitheas, named after a Greek goddess, Pasithea (or Pasithea), personifying relaxation, meditation, hallucinations and altered states .
McCann is said to have exported tens of kilograms of fake Xanax tablets, but also fentanyl and other synthetic opiates. Fentanyl is an opioid 40 times more potent than heroin, which has been linked to tens of thousands of fatal overdoses in the United States.
McCann is said to have imported the substances from China, had them processed in Canada, and exported them in large quantities to accomplices in the United States. The latter, considered to be torchbearers, then sent them by mail, in smaller quantities, to American customers. The drug has always been paid for in cryptocurrency (bitcoin).
Export to the United States was done by different routes. In January 2016, U.S. customs officers intercepted a 21-year-old young man who had just been spotted by motion detectors as he walked on a railroad track through a forest on the border between Vermont and Quebec, near Potton, in the Eastern Townships.
The man, who was on the American side, all dressed in white, as if to camouflage himself in the snow, pulled, at 1 am in the dark night, a sleigh on which rested a large bag. His footprints showed that he was arriving on the Canadian side. Officers who intercepted him found approximately 82 kilograms (182 pounds) of counterfeit Xanax tablets in his bag. The cargo was worth 1.6 million on the black market. The suspect, Cédrik Bourgault-Morin, pleaded guilty and received a year in prison in the United States.
A few months later, the American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) met one of the American accomplices of McCann, a torchbearer who would become a repentant witness. The man eventually admitted that the load seized from the sled had been sent by McCann. The repentant witness visited McCann in Montreal two weeks before this failed delivery. It allowed American investigators to identify McCann in photos. McCann later warned the accomplice that he would no longer do business with him and that he would find new torchbearers in Texas.
In July 2017, the American authorities seized and deciphered information from the sales platform of the dark web AlphaBay and traced the transactions supposedly carried out by McCann, under its various pseudonyms.
At the same time, investigators from the RCMP C Division’s Joint Organized Crime Investigation Unit (UMECO) placed the suspect under surveillance. A hidden camera was monitoring his residence, his communications were being watched, and an undercover agent was in daily contact with him, according to what was exposed in court. Last fall, the RCMP searched McCann’s home and seized electronic devices and three encrypted computer media.
The cross-checking of the information found on the AlphaBay platform and the computer media made it possible to demonstrate that the different pseudonyms on which the investigation was based were controlled by the same person. It also made it possible to find a list of customers and a large number of purchase and payment transactions.
According to analyzes by the American police, the pseudonyms that McCann used were linked to more than 10,000 transactions on the various sales platforms of the dark web between November 2015 and July 2017, for a total amount of 16,752 bitcoins, l equivalent to 18 million Canadian dollars.
Investigation by the American police revealed that transactions would have continued with the pseudonyms probably used by McCann until barely a week ago.
The RCMP is currently conducting an investigation related to this case, which would explain the eight searches carried out on Wednesday on Lite Boulevard in Laval, Montreal and Montérégie.
U.S. police say they seized McCann-related cryptocurrency accounts the same day.
Because McCann would be able to flee the country and part of his assets would be outside the traditional banking system, American police asked their Canadian counterparts to arrest him provisionally, before requesting his extradition.