A father-son duo from Staten Island, New York who were arrested in August 2017 in connection to the massive AlphaBay takedown pleaded guilty this month to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone, butyryl and fentanyl.
Federal prosecutors claimed that between 2015 and 2017, the two “conspired” to sell the three controlled substances both in person and on the dark web.
They were running the drug operation on AlphaBay Market prior to its takedown by federal agents last summer.
Furthermore, prosecutors accused the pair of being responsible for the 2015 overdose of one of their customers.
The victim was administered naloxone by paramedics, taNken to the hospital and ultimately survived.
Despite the fact that one of their customers almost died, the pair continued to sell the dangerous drugs both in hand-to-hand deals and online.
Operating under the username “Zane61,” they received mostly positive feedback concerning the quality of the drugs they sold online, authorities stated in the August 2017 arrest announcement.
During his taped confession last year, Michael Luciano, 59, told police that his son, Philip, 30, was primarily the one in charge of the technological aspects, meaning the dark web business.
Michael and Phillip Luciano pled guilty to their drug charges in court on August 8, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
The charges listed above carry a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison—though the guilty plea may cut the sentence duration down significantly.
The final sentencing is scheduled for November 8 of this year.
Why Fentanyl the Focus of Law Enforcement
As most readers know, law enforcement around the world has been cracking down on darknet markets and their vendors who are dealing illicit drugs online.
It’s hard to say exactly what the primary cause for this massive crackdown is, but most would agree that the current fentanyl epidemic is a major motivation.
Fentanyl is a synthetic drug created by a company called Janssen Pharmaceutica in 1959.
It is said to be 50 to 100 times stronger than pure heroin. It was first introduced as an anesthetic and pain reliever, as well as an intravenous anesthetic starting in the 1960s.
Fentanyl works wonders for those suffering chronic pain, especially cancer patients. Nevertheless, its highly addictive character makes it very dangerous if used outside of normal medical treatment.
At the start of its use, fentanyl was applied using a patch, something akin to the nicotine patch. Then oral methods were introduced, including the Actiq lollipop.
Today, the bulk of fentanyl supply is produced and shipped from China, since regulations are laxer there.
This is the source of most of the substance. In order for it to make its way to the United States, it must first go through Mexico, which is controlled by the drug cartels.
This link between China and Mexico in and of itself is a major issue for the current Trump administration.
Darknet Drug Sales a Global Concern
Even though law enforcement has been tracking darknet markets for years, the seizure of AlphaBay in early July 2017 marked the beginning of the federal government’s intensified campaign targeting online drug trafficking.
But while there is a war waging in the U.S. against the dark web and those selling illicit drugs there, other countries are witnessing a spike in the darknet drug industry.
The United Kingdom has recently been ranked as one of the leaders of illicit drugs being sold on the dark web in the world.
Then there is Russia, which is also losing the war against darknet drug sales.
But instead of sending the drugs to the costumers’ doorsteps, they are sent GPS coordinates.
The buyers will then follow those coordinates to some alley, park, railroad depot, or sewer pipe and retrieve the drugs.
Russian citizens complain the police are doing nothing at all to stop these drops from occurring. If this is true, then forfeiting the war may be a more suitable description.
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