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Press Release

Father And Son Charged With Selling Fentanyl And Oxycodone On The Dark Web

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Angel M. Melendez, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced today the arrests of MICHAEL LUCIANO and PHILIP LUCIANO, a father-son team that sold fentanyl and oxycodone over the “dark web,” including on AlphaBay.  Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is significantly stronger than heroin, and is a major contributor to overdose fatalities.  Both defendants surrendered this morning in Manhattan, and are expected be presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “The defendants’ alleged scheme used the dark web – a place where some criminals think they can hide by trying to conceal their identity and transactions – to sell fentanyl and oxycodone, two highly addictive and potentially lethal opioids.  I want to thank our partners at HSI for bringing this father-son duo’s alleged misconduct out of the dark.”

HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said:  “Fentanyl and other deadly opioids continue to plague far too many American communities because the unscrupulous dealers believe their surreptitious online activities escape the reach of law enforcement. The arrests of these two defendants prove that notion false.  HSI and our partners are proud to be at the forefront of combating illegal activities on the Darknet.”

USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said:  “Fentanyl is a societal scourge powerful enough to rob the lives of those who use in an instant.  Today's arrest of this father and son should serve as a strong reminder the anonymity of the 'Dark Web' can't always protect you from the long arm of the law.  Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners are committed to rooting out those who choose to deal in this deadly opioid.”

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint[1] charging the LUCIANOs:

From at least in or about February 2016 through July 2017, MICHAEL LUCIANO and PHILIP LUCIANO conspired to distribute, and possess with the intent to distribute, fentanyl and oxycodone.  They sold these narcotics over AlphaBay, using the vendor name “Zane61.”  Other AlphaBay users repeatedly provided positive feedback on fentanyl and oxycodone purchased from Zane61, praising Zane61 as follows in one example:  “Great stealth, fast shipping, legit product. Perfect 10/10.”  In June 2017, HSI officers (acting in an undercover capacity) purchased fentanyl from Zane61 on AlphaBay, which Zane61 shipped to an address in the Bronx.

In July 2017, HSI agents executed a search warrant at the LUCIANOs’ home in Staten Island (the “Staten Island Residence”), where Zane61 had received shipments of fentanyl purchased on AlphaBay.  While executing that warrant, agents spoke with MICHAEL LUCIANO who admitted, among other things, that:  he and his son PHILIP LUCIANO bought and sold fentanyl over the dark web; they sold drugs on AlphaBay under the name “Zane61”; PHILIP knew how to use the dark web, had set up their dark web account, had handled the technological aspects of their transactions, and had purchased bitcoins; PHILIP told MICHAEL about orders they received online, and then MICHAEL took packages (containing narcotics) to a local post office, where he handed them to a postal clerk; and they used a fake return address.  A cellphone and an iPad believed to be used by PHILIP LUCIANO were also recovered during the search.  These devices contained widespread evidence of drug-dealing, including text messages between the two defendants, text messages referencing their joint drug-dealing operation, photographs of fentanyl patches and oxycodone pills, and websites associated with bitcoins.

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MICHAEL LUCIANO, 58, and PHILIP LUCIANO, 29, both of Staten Island, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute two controlled substances – fentanyl and oxycodone.  The fentanyl charge – conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 40 grams and more of mixtures and substances containing a detectable amount of fentanyl – carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.  The oxycodone charge – conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute a quantity of mixtures and substances containing a detectable amount of oxycodone – carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised HSI for its outstanding work on the investigation.  Mr. Kim also thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the New York City Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.  He added that the investigation is continuing.  

This matter is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Michael D. Neff is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Updated August 23, 2017

Drug Trafficking
Prescription Drugs
Press Release Number: 17-270