A man from New York has plead guilty to a number of dark-net related charges. The 31 year old man has been selling synthetic opioids and fentanyl derivatives on the dark-net. The charges include an overdose death of a Canadian back in 2016.
U.S. Authorities stated that Chukwuemeka Okparaeke, is also known as Emeka. The man used the dark-net to facilitate his business and execute orders. Buyers knew him under the online moniker "Fentmaster".
It was reported that an 18 year old going by the name Tim Teklinski was browsing illicit narcotics online. The Vancouver based man was able to locate Fentmaster online. After going ahead with the purchase, 3 grams of synthetic fentanyl were shipped to him. In November of 2016, the man accidentally overdosed on the fentanyl.
Dark-Web and Cryptocurrency
The US Department of Justice published a press release on the situation. It was intimated that the defendant sold highly addictive opioid drugs. This was all done using dark-net marketplaces. The criminal proceeds of his illicit trade depended on the use of cryptocurrency that was paid to him by drug buyers.
Law enforcement agents claim that Okparaeke provided false information about the location of an excess of $7 million in Bitcoin that was gained through drug sales. Later, the defendant would admit to possession of the digital coins, and agree to forfeit the virtual money as part of a plea agreement.
Before entering the illicit drug scene, Okparaeke was far from abnormal. It is reported that he was a medical student. Reports claim that the suspect was loyal to the now defunct AlphaBay market. This enabled him to achieve online anonymity and he got into the business.
Prosecutors are alleging that the defendant has run his operations between July 2016 and March 2017. It is believed that his operations were quite successful. It was found that the man imported several kilograms of fentanyl analogues. Acryl fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl were all imported from Asian countries like Hong Kong and China.
In addition, was accused of shipping substantial quantities of other synthetic opioids like U-47700, which is classified as a Schedule I Drug. Nicknamed “pink”, U-47700 was acknowledged by U.S. authorities for its high potential for abuse – in 2015 alone, the dangerous synthetic opioid was linked to 46 cases of drug overdose deaths.
Further, investigators discovered that the defendant used online personas to reinforce his image as an established dark web vendor. The man is said to have boasted about his achievements in online forums by offering counsel to other budding drug dealers.
Okparaeke published an article to detail his exploits, it focused on strategies he used to circumvent the law enforcement radar.
According to a court indictment filed against the defendant, officers attached to the Customs and Border Protection agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security intercepted suspicious packages at an airport random screening.
During the investigations, inspectors discovered some suspicious packages. The boxes shipped to "Emeka Okparaeke" originated from Hong Kong. As it turns out, the box was full of a fentanyl analogue.
U.S. law enforcement raided a location in New Jersey that is said to have been used by the defendant to distribute the banned narcotics. The operation yielded several other illicit products and materials used in drug shipment.
The defendant pled guilty to the charges levelled against him, including a count of distributing the Schedule I pink drug that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, one count of obtaining a controlled substance analogue of dangerous fentanyl, which attracts a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Additionally, Okparaeke is facing more charges for making false statements. Okparaeke lied about the cryptocurrency gained from the illicit activities. As it stands, Okparaeke is due for sentencing by a U.S District Court in December 17, 2020.