Two Men Indicted for Darknet Fentanyl Pill Sales
Operation Sold 124k Pills on the Darknet
Two men have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking organization that used the darknet and encrypted messaging applications to distribute fentanyl-laced pills and methamphetamine to customers across all 50 states, the Justice Department announced today.
Omar Navia, 38, of South Los Angeles, and Adan Ruiz, 27, of Garden Grove, were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine. Ruiz is also facing a separate charge of distribution of fentanyl. The two-count indictment was returned on October 25.
Local media reports that the men helped to sell 124,000 fentanyl pills on the Darknet.
Both Navia and Ruiz were arrested on November 2 and appeared in United States District Court in Los Angeles the same day. They pleaded not guilty, and a trial date has been set for December 26. The defendants were ordered to be held without bond.
According to the indictment, Navia and Ruiz conspired with Rajiv Srinivasan, 38, of Houston, and Michael Ta, 25, of Westminster. Srinivasan and Ta were previously indicted by a federal grand jury and have since pleaded guilty to similar charges. Srinivasan also pleaded guilty to distribution of fentanyl resulting in death.
In their plea agreements, Srinivasan and Ta admitted that their drug trafficking activities led to the deaths of three individuals, and they sold fentanyl-laced pills to two others who also died of drug overdoses. Srinivasan and Ta are currently awaiting sentencing before United States District Judge David O. Carter in Santa Ana.
The indictment alleges that Srinivasan used the vendor account "redlightlabs" on various darknet marketplaces to advertise and accept orders for counterfeit M30 oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and other narcotics. Navia and Ruiz are accused of working alongside Srinivasan to facilitate the distribution of these dangerous drugs.
The use of the darknet and encrypted messaging applications allowed the drug trafficking organization to operate discreetly and reach thousands of customers nationwide. The distribution of fentanyl-laced pills poses a significant risk to public health, as fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid that is often mixed with other substances, leading to a higher risk of overdose and death.
The investigation and subsequent indictment highlight the ongoing efforts of law enforcement agencies to combat the illegal drug trade, particularly in the digital realm. By targeting the individuals responsible for supplying narcotics through the darknet, authorities hope to disrupt the operations of these criminal networks and protect the public from the devastating consequences of drug abuse.
As Navia and Ruiz await trial, the Justice Department continues to work alongside its law enforcement partners to dismantle drug trafficking organizations and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. The sentencing of Srinivasan and Ta next year will serve as a reminder that the distribution of fentanyl-laced pills can have fatal consequences and will not go unpunished.
This case serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges faced by law enforcement in combating the illegal drug trade, which has increasingly taken advantage of the anonymity and accessibility of the darknet. The combined efforts of federal agencies and local law enforcement are crucial in disrupting these networks and safeguarding communities from the devastating impact of drug addiction.