A Texas couple, identified by the U.S. Department of Justice as key figures behind the darknet fentanyl trade, have pleaded guilty to charges of drug distribution.
This event came hot in the heels of severe accusations levelled against the pair regarding their activities of peddling fentanyl on the dark web through the vendor handle “MH4Life.”
They used several darknet markets to run the business, including Dream Market, Silk Road and AlphaBay.
Matthew and Holly Roberts, the pair in question, faced a federal court following the end of investigations on their exploits under Operation Darkness Falls, a multiagency initiative aimed to tackle the currently raging opioid crisis.
‘One of the Most Prolific’ Dark Web Drug Traffickers
The couple, alleged to be “one of the most prolific” darknet fentanyl sellers in the United States first hit the headlines after their arrest in April.
The achievement was lauded by observers as a major milestone in the fight against drugs, particularly the sale of illicit items over darknet marketplaces.
Certainly, Operation Darkness Falls came to be the ultimate blow to Matthew and Holly Roberts, seemingly an ordinary couple in the San Antonio community.
Authorities discovered that the pair operated their online drug business under the cover of several locations around their neighborhood, including an extended-stay hotel in the region.
This location was used by the couple to keep their drug ring afloat.
Apparently, pursuit to the goals of the police operation, agents descended on Roberts’ bases, arrested them and confiscated key pieces of evidence to be used in court.
The bust lifted the lid on a long-standing drug ring that was riddled with covert cybercrime, which included an arsenal of notes and packages of illegal drugs.
Events leading to this arrest were preceded by months of planning by the Department of Homeland Security and officials from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
The method used to nab the couple was through an “undercover purchase” of methamphetamine via Dream Market.
Officers received the supply within days of making the order. From that point, they managed to back-track the address, which pointed to Texas and matched the same USPS parcel box close to San Antonio.
Investigation Uncovers ‘MH4Life’ Operations
According to a press release provided by Department of Justice, the Roberts’ used a vendor account called “MH4Life” which operated for the last seven years.
The account boasted of having the highest number of verified transactions as shown by Dream Market reviews.
This placed the account at the highest pedestal of fentanyl trafficking as far as the global darknet-controlled drug trade is concerned.
A closer look at the underlying details exposes a vendor account that listed an excess of 500 verified transactions on the Agora marketplace and hundreds of other transactions on the Nucleus darknet platform.
In Dream Market, MH4Life had an impressive rating of 4.89 out of a possible 5, and had seen 2,800 verified transactions.
The press release went on to highlight the fact that the account dealt in illicit goods entirely, including the sale of fentanyl and its analogues, as well as Xanax, LSD, bhang, MAF, MDMA, cocaine and heroin.
Furthermore, it was found that the Holly and Matthew Roberts employed a host of methods and devices to secure the internal workings of their organization.
This aspect was specific to the fact that they strived to conceal the real identity of their business—regarding the fact that they survived on mailing narcotics across various market destinations.
Investigators found that the pair employed popular dark web encryption tools, private messaging applications and agents to streamline operations.
More details revealed that the Roberts’ used calculated methods to hide the fact that they were mailing drugs, including using seemingly mundane items like glow bracelets.
They also bought postage from third parties using cryptocurrencies in a bid to clean their tracks.
MH4Life’s buyers made purchases by using cryptocurrencies, which would then be exchanged by the couple and spent in fiat currencies.
After pleading guilty to their charges, the couple will remain in custody until their sentencing, which is scheduled for February 7.
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