A Bitcoin trader had identified a dark web vendor for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducting a series of illegal opioid sale.
In the latest announcement, the United States had announced the three arrests having connection to a dark web opioid sale or a drug trafficking case on the darknet. The first two suspects had been identified as Olatunji Dawodu and Luis Miguel Teixeira Spencer, who had allegedly operated the vendor account named “johncarter7”. The third suspect named Alex Ogando had allegedly operated the vendor account going by the name “PolarSprings.”
The court documents are however publicly made available for the Ogando vs U.S. case. The documents for the other two remain inaccessible.
In an investigation into the dark web opioid sale by the drug traffickers, the law enforcement had identified Dawodu and Spencer as the suspected darknet operators of the alias johncarter7 vendor account. This is in accordance to a criminal complaint, where the investigators had found contacts between the trio Ogando, Dawodu, Spencer and another person referred to as “Individual#1”. On reviewing the data stored in the iCloud account of Dawodu revealed a series of financial transactions between the suspects Ogando and Dawodu.
Law enforcement agencies definitely knows about the identity of the alias Individual#1. They had discovered a package with the person’s fingerprint sent by a different opioid vendor on the dark web. The vendor with the alias “PolarSprings” had been active on various deep web markets that included the Empire Market and the Wall Street Market. On both the markets, PolarSprings conducted opioid sale containing pills pressed with fentanyl. On the Empire Market itself, PolarSprings had conducted 7,020 sales. The individual also bore accounts on other darknet marketplaces as well such as Deep Sea Market, ToRReZ Market and Icarus Market.
The FBI had used the extracted data from the Wall Street market servers for identifying records that are related to the investigation. These records had bore the Bitcoin (BTC) addresses where the vendors had paid their vendor bonds including other fees needed by the Wall Street Market. On the 23rd of March 2019, the PolarSprings account had paid a vendor bond of $200, as stated by the PolarSprings account records. An unspecified fee had also been paid from the same Bitcoin wallet.
Utilizing the blockchain analysis, the investigators had identified an individual who had been associated with the BTC wallet mentioned earlier. The FBI had contacted the individual and came to know that the person was a Bitcoin trader. The trader had even agreed to proceed for an interview with the FBI and had later provided the investigators with the information as a CHS#1 or Confidential Human Resource.
Earlier, the law enforcement had identified the source belonging to a different investigation and mentioned that they had provided the investigators with reliable and truthful information in the past. The individual also anticipates receiving leniency about potential prosecution in exchange for their cooperation with the investigators.
CHS#1 had reviewed the text messages on their mobile device for more information regarding the transactions that took place on the same date as of PolarSprings vendor bond payment. The authorities had found a close match. CHS#1 had received Ogando’s picture from the FBI and the Bitcoin trader had also recognized the name Ogando (as someone) with whom they had traded earlier including a transaction on the 22nd of March, 2019.
“Based on the timing of the March 2019 in-person meeting between Ogando and the Bitcoin Trader, and the subsequent transfer approximately five hours later from the Bitcoin Trader’s wallet to pay for the PolarSprings’ vendor bond on Wall Street Market, it appears that the transaction with Ogando resulted in the payment for the PolarSprings vendor bond.”
On the 2nd of February 2021, the law enforcement had acquired authorization for a Pen Register Trap and Trace (PRTT) device for Verizon service at Ogando’s residence in Providence, Rhode Island. After two days, law enforcement had started receiving data from the PRTT whose review revealed two connections between the Tor relays and IP address at the Ogando’s residence.
On the 23rd of February 2021, the law enforcement agencies had obtained a search warrant for the residence of Ogando. While the warrant had been executed, the law enforcement organizations had seized $350,000 in U.S. currency that was consistent with the involvement of Ogando in opioid sale.
The owner of the building had advised LE that the apartment on the top floor of the Ogando’s apartment had been under construction. Then the LE conducted a protective sweep of the apartment for ensuring the safety of the officers who were searching the below apartment. During the session, LE had observed evidence that someone had utilized the apartment above as a staging area for narcotics distribution following which opioid sale takes place.
The LE officers had observed:
- 1,770 grams worth of pressed blue pills that tested positive for fentanyl;
- a vacuum sealer;
- folded plates with a blue residue consistent with the color of pills sold by PolarSprings;
- latex gloves;
- USPS flat rate packaging envelopes;
- USPS Priority Mail envelopes containing pills that tested positive for fentanyl.
Different governmental officials had things to say about the investigation.
“The use of sophisticated technology and virtual currency may raise unique challenges to investigating these cases, but this investigation demonstrates that law enforcement can nonetheless root out the sale of dangerous opioids on the darknet. We will not let the use of sophisticated cyber technology impair our ability to combat the problem of opioid abuse.” – Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin.
“The three co-conspirators charged today exploited those suffering through an opioid epidemic to enrich themselves. This case demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners around the country to show these criminals and others like them that they can no longer hide behind the dark web to operate their online, illicit marketplaces because we will infiltrate their networks, shut them down, and bring them to justice, no matter where they are.” – James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to shining a light on trafficking fentanyl and other illicit drugs on the dark web. Postal Inspectors, armed with advanced technology, digital forensics, and data analytics, continue to work closely with law enforcement partners to thwart those using the U.S. Mail in furtherance of their crimes.” – Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Washington Division.
“As the opioid epidemic continues, IRS-CI will continue to lend our cyber expertise in tracing virtual currency transactions and dissolving the perceived anonymity of the dark web. We look forward to continuing to work with our law enforcement partners to get these dangerous drugs and those who are trafficking them off our streets. – Kelly R. Jackson, IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge.
“The tragedy of the opioid crisis continues to be fueled by those who use every method available, including the Dark Web, to sell their illicit pills to those with substance abuse addictions. The FDA will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to protect the public health by disrupting and dismantling counterfeit prescription drug manufacturing and distribution.” – Special Agent in Charge Mark S. McCormack, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office.
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