Federal Government Seizes China-Based Websites
BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that three websites that sold illegal and potentially dangerous controlled substances and analogues were seized by federal law enforcement officers. The United States Attorney’s Office obtained seizure warrants from U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott which were then executed by Special Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI).
The websites seized and shut down are:
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard D. Kaufman, who is handling the case, over the course of the past year, HSI Special Agents in Western New York and across the country have been investigating the proliferation of illegally controlled substances purchased from numerous websites operated by Chinese businesses.
“Websites such as these are nothing more than technologically enhanced, street corner drug dealers,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “We have often warned the public about purchasing knock off goods online. When it comes to substances which are intended for human consumption, such purchases become a life and death situation.”
“Seizing these websites that openly sell illegal narcotics helps to stem the flow of drugs to communities in Western New York,” said James Spero, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Buffalo. “We will continue to aggressively target and dismantle these operations that pump poison onto our streets.”
The HSI investigation included several undercover buys from the websites and arrests of numerous individuals throughout the United States who were purchasing the illegal substances in order to re-sell the drugs on the streets. The websites listed over 20 different synthetic narcotics available for sale, including schedule I and III controlled substances and analogues. Some of the drugs purchased included Fentanyl, Bath Salts, and Methylone.
U.S. Attorney Hochul pointed to the following examples where death or near death situations have occurred, linked to websites similar to the ones seized by HSI:
In August of 2013, a man and a woman were found dead in a Hamburg, N.Y. residence. Autopsies confirmed that the man and woman died of acute intoxication from MT-45, an opioid analgesic drug, and ethanol. Authorities believe these substances came from China.
In October, 2013, a 17 year old girl from Western New York suffered multiple seizures and wound up in a coma after taking Methylone. She has since recovered. Authorities believe the Methylone came into this area after being purchased from a Chinese website.
The seizures are the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero.