Champaign Man Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison for Trafficking Millions of Counterfeit Xanax Pills on Darknet, Money Laundering
URBANA, Ill. – U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm today sentenced a Champaign, Ill., man, Stephan Caamano, to 13 years in federal prison for trafficking at least 4.3 million counterfeit Xanax pills throughout the country and laundering the proceeds. Caamano has been ordered to pay more than $2.1 million he gained in profits through this scheme. Caamano was ordered to serve a term of three years supervised release upon completion of his prison sentence.
On April 29, 2019, Caamano, 24, pleaded guilty to using darknet markets and cryptocurrency to traffic pills containing alprazolam, marked as ‘Xanax,’ from March 2017 through May 2018. Caamano purchased controlled substances from abroad to make the counterfeit pills in his unsanitary garage. The pills were manufactured to make them identical in appearance to prescription Xanax, so that unsuspecting individuals could easily have believed they were, in fact true Xanax. Caamano then shipped the pills nationwide in quantities ranging from 1,000 pills per package up to one million.
“This defendant made millions of dollars while putting thousands of people at risk from counterfeit medication that was manufactured in his garage,” said U.S. Attorney John Milhiser. “In addition, this scheme infringed on the ‘Xanax’ trademark to undercut legal marketing of the drug. Thanks to the diligent work of law enforcement, this dangerous scheme ended and this defendant is behind bars.”
According to court documents, Caamano took significant steps to avoid detection by law enforcement including creation of a limited liability company to hide his purchase of the house he used as a base of operations. In addition, Caamano used the darknet and cryptocurrency and built significant security measures into his home computer.
Caamano has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest in May 2018, when he was charged in a criminal complaint. According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the investigation began when Customs and Border Protection agents contacted DEA agents after seizing items, including pill press machines, machine parts and alprazolam that were destined for delivery to Caamano at various addresses in California and in the Champaign, Ill., area.
The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Springfield Resident Office; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Champaign Police Department Street Crimes Unit and the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel E. Ritzer prosecuted the case on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois.