US law enforcement authorities arrested a couple in Norwood, the United States, for selling fentanyl on the dark web.
The 30-year-old James Halpin and the 38-year-old Grace Bosworth were detained in the course of a multi-agency investigation on June 7. According to the court documents, the couple offered fentanyl to darknet customers, with a next-day shipping service, which they have charged $35.
Federal agents reported on June 12 that both of the defendants are waiting for their court appearances. Both Halpin and Bosworth are accused of smuggling, importing and distributing drugs.
In late May, with the approval from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland, multiple law enforcement agencies started making undercover purchases from fentanyl vendors on darknet marketplaces. The current suspects were busted using the same law enforcement technique.
Court records show that the two defendants allegedly ordered narcotics from Canada. In addition, police claim that the duo acquired fentanyl from Chinese distributors. Halpin and Bosworth allegedly conducted the transactions on the internet and had the drugs shipped in the United States via the national postal service.
This investigation involved multiple agencies connected to the Border Enforcement Security Task Force, whose responsibilities involve conducting undercover purchases of drugs on the dark web to help identify fentanyl vendors operating in the United States. When the first package US law enforcement authorities ordered from the vendor duo arrived, the officers sent the drugs to further forensic examination to the Cuyahoga County Forensic Lab. Analysts reported that the substance consisted of a mix of fentanyl, carfentanil and other fentanyl analogs.
Fentanyl was reported as 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and had caused numerous overdose-related deaths in multiple countries. Death from fentanyl overdose was declared a public health crisis in Canada in September 2015, and it continues to be a significant public health issue. In 2016, deaths from fatal fentanyl overdoses in British Columbia, Canada, averaged two persons per day. In addition, the death of musician Prince was reported to be a cause of accidental fentanyl overdose. The drug was among the many identified in counterfeit pills recovered from his home, especially some that were mislabeled as Watson 385, a combination of hydrocodone and paracetamol.
After the forensic examination, investigators were able to trace the package back to Newport. The postal inspector involved in the case uncovered that the location had been the source for approximately 40 packages, which contained fentanyl. According to the court documents, three Greater Cincinnati post offices were used to ship the drugs to customers located in the United States.
During the interviews with the suspects, agents learned that Halpin was the one who handled the packages. He had allegedly received numerous drug parcels and sent them routinely to customers.
Bosworth, who lives with Halpin in a house she owns, was identified by law enforcement authorities through her handwriting, court records stated. The handwriting on the packages matched that on her divorce papers.
On June 6, when a package from Montreal, Quebec, arrived at a Norwood post office with the address of the defendants, the contents were sent to the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office for testing. Forensic experts reported that they found 5 grams of a mixture of fentanyl, carfentanil and other fentanyl analogs.
When Halpin came to the post office the next day to pick up the package and ship out others to the vendor duo’s customers, investigators arrested him. At the time of his arrest, Halpin was found with “untested fentanyl” in a tobacco snuff can, according to the court documents.
Halpin admitted to police that he had shipped the packages, however, he claimed that Bosworth was the one who had packaged, bought and sold the drugs. Halpin told the investigators that, since March, they had been receiving weekly packages of drugs from Canada, and that each contained at least 2 grams of fentanyl. Halpin also claimed that Bosworth asked him to buy bitcoins, however, he didn’t know it was for drugs.
During the search of two locations, federal agents found mailing receipts, drugs and packaging material, court records stated. At one of the locations, law enforcement authorities were able to arrest Bosworth. In her purse, investigators seized a substance believed to be fentanyl.
“The amount of drugs seized is enough to kill a football stadium full of people,” Acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja said in a statement.
According to the investigators, the duo was advertising 98 percent pure fentanyl on the dark web and had conducted 140 sales since last July.
“This case underscores that our state is being inundated with large amounts of deadly drugs. We will continue to aggressively prosecute drug traffickers while working to prevent the next generation of addicts,” Sierleja said.