Three men from Orange County are facing charges after an investigation led authorities to believe they are responsible for selling fentanyl-based fabricated pills made to look like Oxycodone and trick the buyer into thinking their purchases were authentic. The alleged sales took place on the darknet.
The darknet is a hidden portion of the internet that is unavailable unless using specific software to gain access. Though many people associate it with illegal activities most of the content there is reportedly academic information published by universities, databases, and other resources not found through popularly used browsers.
In December 2017 an online store opened through hosts on the darknet such as “Dream Market” and began operating under the profile name of Oxygod. The business, which as of April 4 was still reported as accessible, allegedly serves as an outlet for mail order purchases of the pharmaceutical opioid pain medication Oxycodone.
The DEA partnered with the Costa Mesa Police Department in an investigation lasting around six months researching the activities taking place through the Oxygod account. During that time they reportedly found that pills with the identical appearance of 30 milligram Oxycodone were being ordered and the purchases were delivered through the use of the United States Postal Service.
Investigators identified the suspects as 22-year-old Isaiah Suarez, a Newport Beach resident, 21-year-old Wyatt Pasek of Santa Ana, and 20-year-old Duc Cao, a Vietnam citizen in the United States on an expired student visa who currently resides in Orange. The three men were allegedly sharing the Oxygod profile and each has been accused of taking part in the illegal activities traced to that vendor name.
Investigators began watching the activities of the men until they collected enough information to obtain search warrants. Cao was allegedly seen coming and going from Suarez’s apartment with packages that he delivered to the post office. When searching Suarez’s apartment law enforcement allegedly obtained equipment meant for pressing pills and 3 kilograms of pills in bags, as well as 4.5 kilograms of unidentified powders. Over 10,000 pills and an undisclosed amount of cash were discovered in Pasek’s residence.
The counterfeit tablets have reportedly been identified as fentanyl believed to be obtained online and manufactured with the pill press in order to profit off individuals trying to obtain Oxycodone. It is purported that the three men made nearly $190,000 over a three to four month period by selling the simulated medication.
On Tuesday, April 3, all three men were arrested and charged with one count each of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. They are all being detained awaiting scheduled hearings. If they are convicted as charged each of the men could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
If you or someone you love is suspected of a drug crime, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.