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Press Release

O.C. and Houston Men Sentenced to Decades in Prison for Supplying Fentanyl and Other Drugs Sold on Darknet and Causing Fatal ODs

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

SANTA ANA, California – Two men, one from Orange County and the other from Texas, were sentenced today to lengthy prison terms for using the darknet and encrypted messaging applications to sell more than 120,000 fentanyl-laced pills and other drugs to more than 1,000 customers across the country, causing several fatal overdoses in the process.

Michael Ta, 25, of Westminster, was sentenced to 260 months (21 years and eight months) in federal prison by United States District Judge David O. Carter. At a separate hearing today, Judge Carter sentenced Rajiv Srinivasan, 37, of Houston, to 235 months (19 years and seven months) in federal prison.

Ta pleaded guilty in August 2023 to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Srinivasan pleaded guilty in June 2023 to the same charge and to one count of distributing fentanyl resulting in death.

Srinivasan operated the account “redlightlabs” on multiple darknet marketplaces, including the site “Dark0de.” Srinivasan and Ta used the redlightlabs account to advertise and sell counterfeit M30 oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and other illicit drugs.

Srinivasan also used the encrypted messaging application Wickr to communicate with and sell drugs to customers. Srinivasan received virtual currency as payment for the drugs and then routed that virtual currency through cryptocurrency exchanges.

Ta communicated with Srinivasan about drug orders, obtained fentanyl-laced pills and methamphetamine from sources of supply, stored those drugs in his residence, and mailed out packages with drugs to customers who had ordered them from Srinivasan on the “redlightlabs” account.

From at least February 2022 to November 2022, Srinivasan and Ta engaged in at least 3,800 drug deals to approximately 1,400 customers in all 50 U.S. states, totaling more than 123,000 fentanyl-laced M30 pills, more than 9 kilograms (20 pounds) of methamphetamine, nearly 300 grams of “China white” (fentanyl powder) and black tar heroin, and 27 grams of cocaine.

Ta and Srinivasan admitted in their plea agreements to causing the fentanyl overdose deaths of three victims. Both defendants further admitted to distributing fentanyl-laced pills to two additional victims, both of whom suffered fatal drug overdoses shortly after they received the pills from Ta and Srinivasan.

Prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum, “the five victims of defendants’ crimes ranged in age from 19 to 51. They lived across the country, from California to Florida, Colorado to Arkansas. Each of the five victims leaves behind a family that has been forever and fundamentally changed by defendants’ actions. [Ta and Srinivasan] also victimized countless others as part of an epidemic of addiction and despair plaguing our district and our country.”

In a related case, Omar Navia, 39, of South Los Angeles, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Navia admitted in his plea agreement that, from at least August 2021 to December 2022, he supplied fentanyl-laced pills and methamphetamine to Srinivasan and Ta’s customers. Navia faces a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence and a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment at his August 19 sentencing hearing.

Adan Ruiz, 27, of Garden Grove, a co-defendant in the Navia criminal case and an alleged co-conspirator with Srinivasan and Ta, has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and one count of distribution of fentanyl. His trial is scheduled for September 24. Both Navia and Ruiz are in federal custody.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI investigated this matter. The United States Postal Inspection Service, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas provided substantial assistance.

The investigation in this matter was conducted under the auspices of the FBI-led Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement Team (JCODE), which targets darknet vendors by using sophisticated, high-tech techniques to identify drug traffickers who wrongly believe the dark web allows them to engage in criminal conduct with anonymity. Since its inception in 2018, JCODE investigations have resulted in the arrest of more than 300 darknet drug traffickers, as well as the seizure of more than $42 million in drug-tainted proceeds, over 800 kilograms of narcotics, and approximately 145 firearms.

The Northern Colorado Drug Task Force (NCDTF) also helped investigate this matter. NCDTF works to protect the community by identifying, investigating, and impacting drug-related crime in Larimer County. Participating agencies who make this effort possible include Fort Collins Police Services, Larimer County Sheriff's Office, Loveland Police Department, Windsor Police Department, the Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and Colorado Adult Parole. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Fayetteville Resident Agency also assisted during the investigation. 

Assistant United States Attorney Gregg E. Marmaro of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section prosecuted this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated April 29, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-092