U.S. Attorney Announces the Indictment of Fentanyl and Heroin Darknet Vendors, and the Results of Coordinated Federal Operation Targeting Darknet Drug Trafficking
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Rancho Cordova woman was indicted on Thursday, charged with distribution of fentanyl and oxycodone and other opioids as a result of a coordinated operation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that has identified, disrupted, and prosecuted illegal operators on the darknet.
U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott, FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan, HSI Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin, DEA Special Agent in Charge Christopher Nielsen, and USPIS Inspector in Charge Rafael E. Nunez made the announcement today.
U.S. Attorney Scott stated: “Building on the seizure and shut-down of the AlphaBay criminal marketplace in 2017, the cases we are discussing today continue to send a clear message, that if you choose to engage in criminal transactions on the darknet, you will have federal law enforcement from every district and state across the nation pursuing you. There is no hiding, no safety, and no anonymity in the darknet.”
“The darknet supports an illegitimate commerce system where criminals think they can anonymously traffic dangerous substances and goods into the Unites States,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge for northern California. “HSI is watching and taking down criminals by using innovative technology and uniquely trained analysts and special agents to uncover this type of illicit and dangerous activity. Our country is in the midst of a serious opioid addiction crisis; and some users will do anything to get their hands on drugs like fentanyl. Tens of thousands of people die every year from overdosing on opioids. We all need to do our part to police the streets and all corners of the internet to make sure people do not have unlimited access to these potentially deadly substances.”
“The darknet has become a one-stop shop for individuals peddling powerful opioids, like fentanyl, because of the anonymity it seemingly offers to those who seek to evade detection. As these investigations demonstrate, sophisticated technology is no match for law enforcement when resources and expertise are combined to achieve a common public-safety goal. We will identify and prosecute those who distribute drugs under this illusion of secrecy,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen.
San Francisco Division Inspector in Charge Rafael Nunez of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service stated, “Postal Inspectors are continuously working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our partners in law enforcement in operations just like this one to keep dangerous drugs out of the communities we serve.”
The operation, which was initiated in September of last year, has yielded 14 arrests, four indictments, and 40 search and tracking warrants. In addition, agents have seized $423,912 in U.S. currency, $1,937,410 in cryptocurrency, four vehicles, two pill presses, and six firearms. Agents have also made large seizures of narcotics, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, marijuana, and oxycodone.
Two recent cases exemplify the work of the coordinated operation.
United States v. Carrie Alaine Markis, et al. (Case No. 2:19-cr-062 JAM):
On April 4, 2019, a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Carrie Alaine Markis, 42, of Rancho Cordova, charging her with distribution of fentanyl, distribution of oxycodone, and conspiracy.
According to court documents, Markis was a registered California nurse who sold more than 20,000 prescription opioid pills and products on various darknet sites, including Silk Road 2.0, Pandora, and AlphaBay. Between 2013 and 2016, she purchased legitimate prescriptions from willing sellers. Then, she resold these pills and patches through her darknet business, “Farmacy41,” which she ran from her Rancho Cordova home.
Markis’s business operated on Silk Road 2.0 from November 2013 through May 2014. During this time, Markis sent private messages to her customers revealing that she was a licensed California medical professional. She sold more than 8,500 hydrocodone pills and more than 2,500 oxycodone pills. In combination with other sales of morphine, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and methadone, Markis earned about $230,000 in Bitcoin at the time.
Markis’s Farmacy41 business operated on Pandora from December 2013 through August 2014. During this time, she again sold more than 2,500 hydrocodone and more than 2,000 oxycodone pills. In combination with other sales of morphine, hydromorphone, methadone, and fentanyl, she completed about 393 transactions and earned about $122,000 in Bitcoin at the time.
On AlphaBay, Markis operated her Farmacy41 business from November 2015 through April 2016. There, she completed about 262 transactions for hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, methadone, and fentanyl. At the time, her Bitcoin earnings were worth about $74,000.
Federal agents searched Markis’s residence on January 24, 2019, and found about $1.8 million in Bitcoin held on a cold storage cryptocurrency wallet. Agents also found about $234,000 in cash. Markis was arrested on a federal complaint and made her initial appearance in court on January 25, 2019.
Andrea Michelle Jordan, aka Jill Jordan, 52, was arrested April 4, 2019, in Elk Grove. According to court documents, Jordan allegedly purchased legitimate pill and patch prescriptions from sellers in the area and then provided these to Markis, who then sold them to customers through Markis’ Farmacy41 darknet storefronts.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Beck is prosecuting the case. If convicted, Markis faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
United States v. Jason Keith Arnold, et al. (Case No. 2:19-cr-043-MCE):
On March 7, 2019, a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against Jason Keith Arnold, 45, David Lee White, 49, and Alicia Marie McCoy, 30, all of Chandler, Arizona, charging them with distribution of heroin and methamphetamine, and conspiracy. According to court documents, Arnold, White, and McCoy operated the vendor accounts “TheSickness” and “SicknessVersion2” on Dream Marketplace, through which they conducted more than 3,000 transactions for heroin and methamphetamine to customers throughout the country.
Federal agents conducted several undercover purchases of heroin from SicknessVersion2 from May 2018 through October 2018. In the parcels received by agents, the purchased heroin was placed inside Haribo Gold gummy bear packages. All of the parcels were mailed from the Chandler, Arizona area. One of the undercover purchases was paid for with a postal account controlled by Arnold. Agents conducted surveillance of post offices in the Chandler, Arizona region and were able to determine that White and McCoy were mailing a large volume of parcels and were purchasing thousands of dollars in stamps. Arnold, White, and McCoy also held accounts at a cryptocurrency exchange company in which they exchanged hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoins for U.S. currency.
On February 21, 2019, federal agents executed search and arrest warrants at Arnold’s residence, his tattoo shop, and a motel room occupied by White and McCoy. In the motel room, agents found heroin, and methamphetamine. Agents also found heroin at Arnold’s residence.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Grant Rabenn and Paul Hemesath are prosecuting the case. Arnold made his initial appearance in Phoenix, Arizona on February 22, 2019. White made his initial appearance in Sacramento, on March 21, 2019. McCoy made her initial appearance in Sacramento, on March 7, 2019.
If convicted of conspiracy, Arnold, White, and McCoy face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison, a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, and a $10 million fine. If convicted of distribution of a controlled substance, Arnold, White, and McCoy face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
These and other cases are the product of investigations by the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) task force, which is composed of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The Rancho Cordova Police Department and Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General assisted in U.S. v. Markis.
These cases were brought in conjunction with the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) Team. Established within the FBI’s Hi-Tech Organized Crime Unit, J‑CODE is an initiative announced in January 2018, targeting drug trafficking, especially fentanyl and other opioids, on the darknet. Building on the work initiated with the takedowns of Silk Road and AlphaBay, the FBI’s J-CODE team brings together agents, analysts, and professional staff with expertise in drugs, gangs, health care fraud, and more, and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners from across the U.S. Government, to focus on disrupting the sale of drugs via the Darknet and dismantling criminal enterprises that facilitate this trafficking.