Mr. Hotsauce, one of the most popular darknet drug dealers in Canada, finally came face-to-face with the law when Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) busted the vendor’s operation.
Authorities have arrested four individuals in connection with the business.
Operating on Dream Market, the Mr. Hotsauce vendor handle reportedly advertised the ability to offer a wide range of drugs to clients, which included cocaine, MDMA, heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, ketamine, GHB and crack cocaine.
All these drugs fall into Canada’s schedule 1 class of illegal substances, which have significant effects on the users and heavy punishment on illegal distributors.
Mr. Hotsauce was believed to have been involved in a large number of illegal drug transactions across the country.
What’s surprising is that Mr. Hotsauce used conventional measures such as advertising to sell the products, which is a measure mainly used by legitimate enterprises.
Though other vendors have used this means to market their products, it still seems rather foolish as it sometimes attracts unwanted attention.
However, what is not surprising is that the cryptocurrency Bitcoin was the favored mode of payment because it allows both buyers and sellers to retain their anonymity and does not leave a trail.
Also, the fact that the vendor used mail as the courier service to deliver product to clients is quite common among most darknet drug operations—sometimes in collusion with the mail courier and sometimes without their knowledge.
The Drug Bust
In late May, Canadian law enforcement carried out an operation that saw the arrest of four individuals from Toronto, Ontario.
They are 25-year-old George Anthony Athanasiou, 28-year-old Jona Claudia Faller, 21-year-old Cypress Araujo and 20-year-old Chadwicklee McLean.
They all played significant roles in the success of the illegal enterprise; some operated the dark web vendor account while others contributed by offering courier services.
Aside from the arrest of the four individuals, the police also executed a search warrant, and the evidence they seized was damning.
They found nearly $100,000 in cash, over $200,000 in virtual currency, a loaded handgun and a wide range of drugs suspected to be ketamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.
The bust was a win for the Canadian police since the evidence collected would make it easier for authorities to build a solid case against them, and the suspects would have a hard time explaining why they were in possession items usually found on drug dealers when they’re arrested.
Plus, at least one more dark web vendor is off the market, therefore a reduction in the supply of illegal drugs, though small, but a reduction none the less.
This would also inform other vendors that they are not untouchable.
The Charges Presented
Due to the enormity of the crimes committed under the alias of Mr. Hotsauce, and the overwhelming evidence gathered against the suspects, many charges were brought up against them—46 to be specific.
McLean and Araujo got lighter charges because they were not heavily involved in the running of “Mr. Hotsauce.”
They were charged with trafficking schedule 1 substances (nine counts) and exporting schedule 1 substances (nine counts), which are violations of the CDSA. They were also charged with conspiracy (two counts), which is in violation of the CCC.
Due to Faller’s involvement with the vendor, he got more charges on his criminal record than the previous two.
He was found to have been in violation of the CCC and charged with two firearms-related charges, conspiracy (two counts) and being in possession of material goods acquired through crime.
He was also charged with possession with intent of exporting schedule 1 substances (nine counts), possession with intent of trafficking schedule 1 substances (nine counts), trafficking schedule 1 substances (nine counts) and exporting schedule 1 substances (nine counts). All this, however, unlike the other charges, violated the CDSA.
Athanasiou is thought to be the mastermind behind the entire criminal enterprise and got the highest number of charges brought up against him.
In violation of the CDSA, he was charged with possession with intent of exporting schedule 1 substances, possession with intent of trafficking schedule 1 substances, exporting schedule 1 substances and trafficking schedule 1 substances.
Each of these charges carried nine counts, to a total of 36. In violation of the CCC, he was charged with four counts of breach of recognizance, two counts of conspiracy, two firearms-associated charges and possession of property acquired through crime.
Punishment for Crime
If found guilty, the four individuals are looking at significant jail time. According to the CDSA, trafficking schedule 1 substances or possession with the intent of trafficking carries a minimum time of one year and a maximum of a life sentence.
Importing/exporting schedule 1 substances and possession of schedule 1 substances with the intent of exporting carries a minimum sentence of two years in prison, and a maximum of a life sentence.
The length of the sentence depends on factors such as the location and how the crime was committed.
According to the CCC, conspiracy carries a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Possession of property acquired through crime carries a minimum jail term of six months or a fine.
The firearms-related charges were not so clear. Thus, it is quite difficult to estimate the minimum or maximum sentence one might receive.
As in most countries, it is at the judge’s discretion whether the suspects, if found guilty, will serve concurrent or consecutive sentences. Therefore, the four might end up spending their entire life in jail if the judge deems it a fair punishment for their crimes.
Canadian Law Enforcement
Inspector Gord Cobey of the RCMP, who is in charge of Toronto West SOC, said in a press release that they would continue to fight drug trafficking, regardless of the creative ways criminals are about their businesses.
He also said that with the support of the local community, they could make their community safer and drug-free. He advised people to inform their local police in case they have any information on any criminal activity because it may help them put criminals behind bars.
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