Dark Web Drug Trafficking Scheme: Californian Pleads Guilty


60-year-old Dr. Reza Ray Ehsan, Bel-Air, who unknowingly sold controlled substances to an undercover agent According to the U.S Attorney’s Office, Christopher Lazenby, the man who stole personal information of doctors to get controlled substances to sell on the dark web, has pleaded guilty to charges against him. The 29-year-old was charged with possession with intent to distribute oxycodone and methamphetamine. Lazenby pleaded two federal drug trafficking charges on Monday.

The Riverside County man ran a criminal scheme where he illegally obtained identifying information of medical doctors, such as their dates of birth, DEA numbers, and their issued ID numbers. Lazenby then used this information to create fake names and forge signatures to write prescriptions of controlled substances such as methamphetamine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and Adderall, which he later sold on the dark web for profits.

Court documents showed that Lazenby had stolen the identities of nine medical doctors and also the identity of a physician’s assistant for his criminal scheme. Lazenby used the U.S mail system to conduct his dark web scheme, getting his prescriptions through the mail and also mailing drugs to his customers across the States, after he received orders on the dark web. He reportedly hid behind the aliases Bryan Sheldon, Colin Bohlinger, and Jamey Neher to conduct his business.

Court documents, also revealed that Lazenby had mailboxes in Carson and South Los Angeles where he received his controlled drugs and some time, addressed them to a motel in Inglewood. Further reports revealed that Lazenby had used the Drug Enforcement Administration’s online registration system to change the address of one doctor to make it look like his medical office was at that motel. The culprit also changed the address of eight doctors to his mailboxes he controlled in Carson and Los Angeles.

Agents stated that, after receiving his drugs, Lazenby would then log onto his marketplace on the dark web and list them. He reportedly also sold some his drugs on Craigslist.

Operation "Hypocritical Oath," was initiated by the DEA

Image Source: apnews.com

On October 3, last year, Lazenby was arrested at his Torrance hotel room. This was after he checked in with one of his known aliases. This led to a subsequent search of his room by law enforcement officers, who uncovered personal computers, oxycodone pills and 196 grams of methamphetamine, rubber stamps, and prescription pads the names of the doctors he had stolen their identities.

Lazenby’s sentencing is scheduled for February 10, 2020, and faces a maximum of life in federal prison.  Lazenby’s arrest came as a result of an operation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which saw a series of investigations of medical professionals who were allegedly diverting controlled substances to the dark web, making huge profits off it. The Operation which was dubbed “Hypocritical Oath,” was mainly focused on medical professionals including doctors, clinic operators, physician assistants, and nurses and resulted in the arrests of nine culprits who later faced criminal and federal charges. Search warrants were also executed, together with administrative actions which saw many of the medical professionals losing their DEA licenses.

Operation “Hypocritical Oath,” was initiated by the DEA, together with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General and prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office.

The Operation was part of efforts to curb the nationwide opioid epidemic stemming from the dark web. The Operation identified, investigated, and hunted down individuals responsible for the illegal diversion of a considerable chunk of pharmaceutical controlled substances to the dark web for profits.

60-year-old Dr. Reza Ray Ehsan, Bel-Air, who unknowingly sold controlled substances to an undercover agent

Image Source: dea.gov

Other culprits arrested in the Operation besides Lazenby includes 47-year old Dr. Michael Anthony Simental, of Corona, who was a practitioner at the Kaiser Permanente facility Riverside. Dr. Simental illegally distributed hydrocodone, an opioid found in drugs such as Vicodin.

58-year-old Gabriel Hernandez, 58, of Anaheim, a physician assistant who worked at a Long Beach pain management clinic known as Vortex Wellness & Aesthetics, was also arrested. Hernandez reportedly shipped off almost 446,000 oxycodone pills to the dark web.

Another culprit was 60-year-old Dr. Reza Ray Ehsan, Bel-Air, who unknowingly sold controlled substances to an undercover agent who posed as a patient during secret meetings back in December 2018. Dr. Reza reportedly illegally sold over 700,000 opioid pills to drug dealers between 2015 and 2016.

40-year Saloumeh Rahbarvafaei, of Northridge, who was a nurse practitioner working at several clinics, including the Good Neighbor Clinic in Leimert Park. Rahbarvafaei was arrested for illegally distributing hydrocodone to her patients and other people.

Other medical practitioners are 41-year old Monica Ann Berlin, of Del Mar, who was a former employee at a doctor’s office in Beverly Hills, Ana Leblanc, 33, of Chino Hills, 57-year-old Dr. Robert Tinoco Perez, of Westminster, and lastly Dr. Dzung Ahn Pham, 57, of Tustin.

Source: KTLA

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