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  • American Woman Found Guilty to Supplying Millions of Fake Pills on the Dark Web

    Carolyn Hernandez-Taylor was minding her own business in her brother’s home when a helicopter flew over and caught her in action. There was nothing suspicious at first glance, she was just taking some garbage bags to the car.

    However, the respective bags were filled with fake Xanax. And unfortunately for her, the police already knew about her dark web business involving designer benzo, like the drug is also called. It was the last operation of a long investigation targeting a popular yet incredibly dangerous drug.

    Unlike other drugs, designer benzo is often advertised and sold over the dark web, rather than on the streets. That’s exactly what Carolyn Hernandez-Taylor was doing, hoping the anonymity offered by the dark web would protect her against the police.

    A long investigation with a quick outcome

    The 29 year old woman, based in Detroit, was forced to plead guilty in front of all the evidence gathered against her. As if all these were not enough, she was caught in action with bags of pills in her hands, so it was impossible for her to contest the outcome of the investigation.

    She pleaded guilty after being offered a plea agreement, though.

    She admitted the conspiracy to own a controlled substance with the obvious intent to sell it. She also pleaded guilty to money laundering, as well as the action of dispensing fake drugs. The maximum sentences combined could bring up to 70 years in prison.

    What led to the investigation

    Officers and investigators started working on the OpiateConnect dark web market before having any suspects. The market gained quite some notoriety over the past months due to the reliable dealers and access to numerous drugs.

    Some of the drugs sold over OpiateConnect included cocaine, as well as plenty of fake drugs that were made to imitate original drugs.

    Unfortunately for consumers, the fake drugs were based on uncontrolled chemicals that are not suitable for human consumption, many of them having the potential to cause death over a short period of time.

    What the investigation led to

    The investigation wasn’t easy because the dark web offers a safe environment for criminals. However, a drug business will have to extend its branches in real life as well. It’s not an exclusively online product.

    One thing led to another, and the authorities found out that the market was operated from Detroit. They've managed to find the exact location and got a search warrant for it. What they found there was more than enough to incriminate everyone involved.

    Police officers found about $1M worth of different cryptocurrencies. Everything was confiscated. In terms of fiat money, investigators found over $300,000 in cash. The money was also seized and used as evidence.

    Such a crime business couldn't be conducted without force and protection, so the authorities also discovered a bunch of firearms. It's unclear at the moment whether the criminals had permits for these guns.

    What intrigued the authorities was an industrial mixer used in the drug manufacturing business, a massive pill press for large scale operations, as well as the results of all these, such as fake drugs. Cocaine has also been found, among other controlled substances.

    Based on technical research, these machines could make up to 20,000 pills in an hour, meaning nearly half a million pills throughout a day.

    A deeper insight into the investigation

    According to the Detroit police officers, drug traffickers will do whatever it takes to sell the poison they create. It is believed that Hernandez-Taylor was responsible for flooding the market with millions of fake pills.

    During the same statement, the police agreed that while drug dealers make new efforts to bypass the law, the police force is also catching up. The OpiateConnect market has been around since 2016. Prior to 2018, no one knew who was managing it. Only in 2018 the authorities found a few leads.

    Officers often go undercover on these dark web markets in order to find connections and locate potential dealers. That’s exactly what happened with OpiateConnect too.

    These days, Hernandez-Taylor is out on bond. The sentence will most likely be given in a few months. On the other hand, her brother Victor Hernandez is still jailed because he is seen as a dangerous individual for the community.

    He asked for a short-term release to attend his brother’s funeral, but he was denied.

    Prior to the arrests, the authorities surveilled suspects for a long time, identifying all the parties involved and how the operations evolved. For example, Hernandez-Taylor was often spotted entering post offices and mailing dozens of parcels.

    One time, officers entered the post office after she left and analyzed the dozens of packages sent. One of them was addressed to an undercover officer who ordered cocaine over OpiateConnect. The parcel had cocaine in it, while other parcels had different types of fake drugs.

    Author reign3d
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