A Trussville, Alabama veterinarian is under arrest for allegedly using Bitcoin to purchase 36,000 doses fentanyl on the dark web.
David Wallace is the suspect in question, arrested alongside alleged co-conspirator Dana Leslie.
Police say 18 grams of the drug was stuffed inside a teddy bear. It only takes 2 milligrams to deliver a deadly dose of fentanyl.
Wallace, who is 46 years old, along with his counterpart Leslie, 33, was charged with the intention to commit a controlled substance crime.
According to the authorities, the package was intercepted as it headed to Shelby County. Police in New York had intercepted the package containing the supply of fentanyl at the JFK Airport. After identifying the address, they then notified the Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force of the news.
After investigators were able to find out the intended receivers of the package, they pinned down Wallace as a suspect.
It was later discovered that Wallace had purchased the drugs on the dark web, paying with cryptocurrency. Leslie was tied to the purchase.
According to a statement from law enforcement released after the arrest, Wallace and Leslie are being held in the Shelby County Jail, and they are denied a bond.
Fentanyl’s Presence on the Dark Web
Before the dawn of the internet, one of the biggest challenges to criminals has been keeping their anonymity. However, the use of dark web markets and cryptocurrencies has enabled them to stay unknown, for the most part.
But law enforcement agencies are stepping up their game to crack down on internet-based crime—particularly drug dealing involving the deadly drug fentanyl, which is increasingly common on the dark web.
Fentanyl is an illegal synthetic opioid that is 100 times more powerful than morphine. It is also 50 times stronger than heroin. Due to its effect on the human body, the drug is prone to abuse.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has classified fentanyl as a “schedule II” drug, meaning it is illegal with a high propensity for abuse.
It only requires 2mg to offer a lethal dose to an adult human. In the case of Wallace, the 36 grams were enough to kill thousands of people—around 36,000 to be exact.
With fentanyl initially developed in Belgium to aid people suffering from cancer, the extreme potency of the drug has made it quite common among recreational users. According to national health statistics, around 64,000 U.S. citizens died of fentanyl-related overdoses in 2016.
The drug is dangerous because of its chemical similarities to heroin. But due to fentanyl’s strong potency, it’s lethal in large doses.
Specifically, in Alabama, the state in which the arrest of Leslie and Wallace was made, the rate of opiate overdose deaths is increasing. In 2016, approximately 44 percent of overdose deaths in Alabama were attributed to opioid drugs including oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine—a 13 percent spike since 2011.