Prosecutors from Cleveland, Ohio arraigned a one-time inhabitant and a current resident of Parma for dealing marijuana, Xanax and other drugs on the dark web.
One of the accused is 27-year-old Michael Gonzalez, who is a resident of Parma, Ohio. The other dealer is Nicholas Powell, who was once a Parma resident but currently lives in Spring Hill, Florida.
Powell, 32, is facing trial for two counts of drug trafficking, conspiracy to deal controlled substances and advertising them on the internet.
Moreover, the court indicted him for conspiracy to launder money.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, is facing a drug conspiracy charge.
How the Two Men Operated
According to investigators, some of the nicknames that the accused used included “BnC,” “Money TS,” “The Source” and “BCPHARMA.”
As per a different criminal complaint, Powell and Gonzalez allegedly collaborated to trade Xanax in the U.S. via the dark web. Gonzalez revealed to the feds that Powell received orders made for Xanax while his task entailed filling them up.
The criminal complaints further revealed that Gonzalez received payments through the mail on behalf of his co-accused.
Additionally, Gonzalez admitted to the authorities that he was responsible for overseeing the shipping and weighing of the Xanax powder.
He also told the feds that he ended his business activities with the prime suspect when he was short of 500 grams of the powder.
Gonzalez earned a considerable amount of revenue from the trade, starting from December 2016 to March 2017. The court filings indicate that the two communicated via encrypted apps.
Powell, during his interrogation with the feds last summer, did not deny the allegations of his involvement the trade of Chinese steroids and marijuana.
Powell also came clean about making strategic arrangements for the direct shipping of the controlled substances from China to the consumers.
Further, the court recordings indicate that Powell laundered an amount ranging between $10,000 and $40,000 in cryptocurrency.
He also agreed to sign a forfeiture of cryptocurrency amounting to $438,000. However, he opted not to spend it because it was “dirty money,” as the criminal complaints suggest.
Powell also told the feds that he anticipated his indictment.
Their Arrest and Indictment
The police apprehended Powell and Gonzalez back in June.
The arrest followed an operation that the Department of Justice launched on the same month targeting individuals dealing controlled substances on the dark web.
The operation began when the agents from Homeland Security went undercover as money launderers.
They exchanged U.S. currency for different types of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, on darknet market sites.
After their arrest, the men were arraigned in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Judge Christopher Boyko was in charge of the case.
The court released Gonzalez on bond, whereas Powell remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
The criminal complaints indicate that the authorities confiscated digital cryptocurrency worth a large sum from Powell.
Other Arrests and Searches
The operation that led to the arrest of Gonzalez and Powell also resulted in the capture of more than 35 individuals in a nationwide bust.
The suspects allegedly took part in the trade of controlled substances on the dark web.
A news release from the Department of Justice announcing the arrests indicates that the federal agents that ran the operation launched more than 90 cases.
More to the arrests, the federal agents sanctioned 70 search warrants.
The searches resulted in the confiscation of 100 grams of fentanyl, liquid synthetic opioids amounting to 333 bottles, more than 100,000 Tramadol pills, cocaine, LSD and 24 kilograms of Xanax powder, among other drugs.
Further, the federal agents seized 100 firearms, five illegally procured vehicles, as well as more than $3.6 million in gold bars.
The agents also confiscated 2,000 cryptocurrencies whose value is currently over $20 million, devices used in the mining of Bitcoin, pill presses and vacuum sealers.
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