Antoin Austin, the face behind the “DARKKING22” darknet handle, pleaded guilty to purchasing and distributing fentanyl and multiple opioid analogs from China via the dark web.
Austin, a resident of Euclid, Ohio, was arrested in March by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents working with the Postal Inspection Service as a result of an undercover sting operation.
He first came to the federal agencies’ attention as a result of a post on a darknet market.
In the post, Austin advertised the sale of “molly” (or ecstasy), methoxymethylfentanyl 30490, pure lofentanil, pure fentanyl HCL and MMAF.
Feds Focus on Dark Web to Disrupt Fentanyl Trafficking
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions shared updates about the case aside U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman during a news conference in Cleveland earlier this month.
Sessions reinstated during the conference that his office is committed to investigating cases involving the dark web under the operation codenamed Operation Darkness Falls.
The operation involves the charging of any individual or entity across the U.S. with the sale of fentanyl and other drugs via the dark web.
The operation can be regarded as somewhat successful since its inception. Austin was arrested and charged under the operation, but this case wasn’t the biggest takedown.
An All-Out War Against Fentanyl and Vendors
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice’s takedown of the “MH4Life” darknet vendor handle—which was operated by a couple from San Antonio, California—was and might be the most significant takedown in recent times.
Investigators believe the pair, Matthew and Holly Roberts, were behind the most prolific fentanyl vendor operations in the U.S. and possibly the fourth most prolific in the world, with thousands of transactions between 2011 and 2018 on various darknet markets.
The Department of Justice is determined to end the opioid epidemic in Ohio and in the nation at large.
They set their eyes on tackling the distribution networks involving the dark web, mainly targeting the vendors.
This has also seen an indictment this month against two Chinese nationals, Guanghua Zheng and his son, Fujing Zheng (aka Gordon Jin).
Federal authorities believe the two are responsible in the manufacturing and shipping of fentanyl analogs and other illicit drugs to the U.S. and other parts of the world.
Investigations also saw a chemist in Boston named Bin Wang get arrested and recently plead guilty in a federal court in Ohio as a result of buying fentanyl shipments from the Zheng’s organization and distributing the said drugs to multiple states in the U.S.
The Department of Justice stated that Antoin Austin is expected to be sentenced on November 5.
Until then, the determined government agencies will do everything at their disposal to reduce opioid deaths as the nation awaits further updates.
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