Robert Kiessling, the third-largest darknet fentanyl vendor in the world, was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in coordination with federal investigators from the U.S.
Authorities attached his darknet scheme with a supply of fentanyl and other narcotic drugs discovered in his house.
Kiessling after the arrest was released on a bond in Canada, and later he was found dead after committing suicide in Calgary, Alberta, where he grew up.
Kiessling did not realize that the Canadian and U.S. law enforcement had been watching his online steps for close to one year.
A group of police watched his moves after the undercover discovery.
They watched as he departed his home in Kelowna, British Columbia, where he lived with his family.
They followed his car as he dropped off his wife, Katie, before heading to the town post office, where he had gone to send a white envelope which the police believed to be containing the deadly opioid fentanyl.
Sure enough, in the package, investigators discovered around 10 grams of fentanyl powder. Further investigations in his car found him in possession of bottles similar to those he used online containing codeine and “purple drank” syrup.
It was alleged that Kiessling committed other several federal crimes including the manufacture, distribution and trafficking of fentanyl, importing other illegal drugs and smuggling goods into the U.S.
These charges were kept a secret from him since they were afraid he could escape, destroy evidence, or liquidate criminal proceeds.
Katie, Kiessling’s wife, denied knowing about her partner’s illegal activities. It is believed that only Kiessling accessed the computer room where he carried out all his business.
The U.S. Department of Justice in a press release about its “Operation Darkness Falls” effort stated that Kiessling died by suicide after being released on bond in Canada.
Darknet Drug Operation
Kiessling created and operated different darknet market accounts, in which he was identified as DougFish44 and DF44.
Like many users in the dark web, he protected himself by using private messaging, encrypted software, Virtual Private Networks and Tor.
In the dark web, he operated on various marketplaces including AlphaBay and Dream Market, where he was one of the vendors with the highest recorded number of verified transactions.
He made further efforts to conceal his identity by using cryptocurrency to purchase postage from third parties.
Last year, a 39-year-old Ohio woman by the name Grace Bosworth also killed herself amid ongoing criminal proceedings.
She was arrested alongside her partner James Halpin. The U.S. undercover agents had begun receiving fentanyl from darknet vendors as part of the investigation.
The addresses of the mail was traced back in the city in which Bosworth and Halpin lived. After the arrest, Halpin confessed that he had mailed about 35 packages containing 50-100mg each of fentanyl. Additional similar packages were found in their home.
The feds are keener to catch these illegal drug vendors due to the rapidly increasing deaths as a result of opioid drugs and their analogs. Some vendors have gone to the extent of manufacturing the drug. One factor contributing to the manufacture is that the ingredients are readily available in China and can be easily exported.