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6 charged with illegal drug distribution through dark web in Los Angeles

Published On: 08-28-2017 in Category: Drug trafficking, Narcotic trafficking, substance abuse

Federal prosecutors on August 17, 2017, charged six Southern Californians for their role in operating a multimillion-dollar drug ring on the dark web from a 271-home gated community called La Viña in Altadena, Los Angeles. Two men from Los Angeles — 29-year-old Bryan Antony Lemons and 37-year-old William James Farber — are facing drug possession and distribution charges. The duo has also been charged with conspiracy to launder money.

Other accused – 31-year-old Faysal Mustafa Alkhayat of Woodland Hills, 47-year-old Michele Pickerell of Altadena, 29-year-old Richard Thomas Martinsen of Studio City and 22-year-old Michael Angelo Palma of Los Angeles – also face drug possession and distribution charges.

According to investigating officers, the ring members ran two underground drug distribution businesses. “PureFireMeds,” the first one, was operated on Silk Road, while “HumboldtFarms,” operated from AlphaBay. Over a period, the members successfully transacted more than 78,000 orders for Xanax, oxycodone, ketamine, magic mushrooms, hydrocodone, LSD, marijuana and ecstasy.

One of the ring members, Pickerell’s home in La Viña was the nerve center of all drug trafficking activities. The accused used to assemble and dispatch around 1,000 drug packages each week from that home in the gated community to different locations. Within four years of operating the ring, the group managed to sell drugs for over $7 million worth of Bitcoin, according to federal prosecutors. If proven guilty, all of the six arrested may get a maximum prison time of 40 years and a fine of $5 million.

Selling drugs on dark web is a frightening reality in US

With the advent of AlphaBay’s operations until it was shut down in July 2017, the online marketplace for illegal drugs had acquired a notorious reputation for displaying more than 21,000 listings for illicit opioids, over 4,100 listings for fentanyl and other kinds of mind-altering substances from scores of drug dealers worldwide. Although these online spaces engaged in the sale of cocaine and heroin, the real threat to society was the easy availability of deadly synthetic opioids with life-wrecking consequences. Additionally, several drug dealers were known to engage in fraudulent practices of selling compressed powdered fentanyl packaged as oxycodone or Xanax pills to gullible buyers, who weren’t aware of the dangers they were dealing with.

Research indicates that all it takes is to type in a few keywords for anyone to get connected to about 40,000 to 50,000 online pharmacies that deal in illegal sale of deadly substances. Unfortunately, most of the time, the buyers are teens and net savvy young adults who end up in the clutches of addiction.

Leading a drug-free life

Addiction is a disease, which, if left untreated, may turn fatal. Though timely treatment is imperative for complete recovery, the support of family members and loved ones cannot be ignored. If you or a loved one is addicted to prescription drugs, seek treatment immediately. The Los Angeles Drug Treatment and Rehab Center can help you get one of the best addiction treatment programs and embrace sobriety. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 213-986-2445 for more information on different treatment options in your vicinity.

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