Two men involved in a dark web drug operation face life terms. According to the US Department of Justice, Westminster resident Michael Ta, 24, and Houston resident Rajiv Srinivasan, 37, are accused of “a conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine.
After being caught up in an FBI sting both are facing life in prison after being charged with peddling drugs and thousands of fake oxycodone pills that were laced with fentanyl on the dark web.
Srinivasan was involved in the sale of drugs on “Darkode,” a forum on the dark web for cybercrime. International law enforcement had a successful year in 2015 with their investigation of the forum leading to further arrests including 12 in the United States. Darkode was the most sophisticated English-speaking forum for criminal computer hackers in the world during that time according to U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania
The forum and an encrypted messaging app contributed to the sales of 123,188 fentanyl pills, and more than 143 kilograms of methamphetamine, black tar heroin, and cocaine. While around 7,000 of those pills were allegedly sold to an undercover agent posing as a customer between February and November 2022, said the indictment.
The dark web is a subsection of the internet that cannot be accessed by any search engines. It can only be accessed by specialized browsers or hired hackers. Although it might not be very accessible, users should realize that they are still not anonymous and will face real-world consequences for using this system to engage in criminal conduct.
Chainalysis studies suggest that in 2020, $14 billion of illicit transactions occurred, though that only represents about 0.15% of all cryptocurrency activity.
Ta reportedly collaborated with his partner in order to fulfill orders: acquiring, storing, and distributing packages of pills while Srinivasan collected payments. A spreadsheet shared by Ta and Srinivasan allegedly contained the names of 1,500 customers.
Srinivasan was going to be brought from Texas to California for trial. But Ta was released on bond. The arraignment is set for Tuesday, December 22. If found guilty of the criminal conspiracy charge, the men could face life in prison.
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