Florida man pleads guilty to distributing opioids on the dark web.
Daren James Reid, 35, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida pleaded guilty to unlawfully distributing thousands of prescription opioid pills through the dark web, receiving roughly 500,000, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Court documents show in the eight-year span between 2012 and 2020, Reid distributed 12,000 oxycodone pills using names such as “Oxyflight” and “Imperial Royalty,” yielding thousands in profits over sites such as ilk Road, Wall Street, and Apollon. He also shipped his stock, including one kilogram of oxycodone, morphine, and other drugs housed in a storage facility in Florida, via the U.S. Postal Service in exchange for Bitcoin.
“Reid preyed upon the vulnerabilities of others by illegally distributing over half a million dollars of highly addictive opioids through dark web markets,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “EDVA, along with its law enforcement partners, will continue to investigate and hold accountable individuals who pose a significant danger to our communities by placing profits over lives.”
The federal agency reported that Reid pleaded guilty to unlawful distribution and possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone, and he is scheduled to be sentenced on June 1, facing a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison for each of count.
In fall 2020, federal agents had one of the largest opioid busts over the dark web, termed DisrupTor, in which 179 vendors and buyers of illegal drugs in Europe and the U.S. were arrested. Law enforcement teams, including the DOJ, FBI, ICE, the DEA, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Defense Department, were also able to confiscate more than $6.5 million in both cash and virtual currencies and 1,100 pounds of drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and MDMA, and a total of 64 firearms.
At the time, Edvardas Šileris, head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), said, “Law enforcement is most effective when working together, and today’s announcement sends a strong message to criminals selling or buying illicit goods on the dark web: the hidden internet is no longer hidden, and your anonymous activity is not anonymous. Law enforcement is committed to tracking down criminals, no matter where they operate – be it on the streets or behind a computer screen.”
“After the takedown the data from the seized servers [from Wall Street] has been shared with Europol for analysis purposes and identification of targets that traded in illegal commodities on the marketplace. The available data was analyzed in a joint effort by the international law enforcement community,” Šileris added. “Europol has further developed this information into intelligence packages which have been send to the appropriate countries and have led to many different investigations worldwide.”
The bust likely led to the takedown of subsequent rings, including Reid’s operation. Online activities have skyrocketed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and authorities are committed to reducing the impact of illicit dealers in cyberspace.
FBI director Christopher Wray said, “The FBI wants to assure the American public, and the world, that we are committed to identifying dark net drug dealers and bringing them to justice.”