Melissa Scanlan, the other assailant of the dark web group Drug Llama, who sold fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, have pleaded guilty to charges against her in a U.S District Court. On October 30, the 32-year-old San Diego native admitted to 10 federal charges against her, which included conspiracy to commit international money laundering, conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, misbranding drugs, five counts of distributing fentanyl and selling counterfeit drugs.
Scanlan was arrested on September 17 this year, as one of the pair who created and ran the dark web group Drug Llama, which sold over 50,000 fentanyl pills across the country. Although Scanlan was charged together with the other half of Drug Llama, Brandon Arias, in a January 2019 Indictment by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Illinois, she was also investigated for the overdose deaths of two people.
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Scanlan, who ran Drug Llama with her partner at that time, was alleged to have sold fentanyl to a 41-year-old woman as well as a father of a 10-month-old baby in San Diego County, is separate occasions in September last year. According to U.S Attorney Sherri Hobson, the woman was found dead after some days, so as the 10-month-old boy, who was found unresponsive, together with his parents in bed.
Scanlan’s indictment charged her with distributing over 0.4 kilograms of fentanyl pills, but was during a detention hearing with a San Diego federal judge; Attorney Hobson revealed that Scanlan and Drug Llama was believed to have shipped over 50,000 fentanyl pills.
Scanlan’s arrest came as a result of an undercover operation in St. Louis and San Diego, led by the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency, with help from U.S Postal Inspection, Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. According to reports, Scanlan and her other partner in Drug Llama bought fentanyl and other synthetic opioids from the dark web, had it smuggled through Mexico, and resold them on their dark web accounts. The pair used the U.S Postal Services in delivering drugs to their clients.
During the dark web undercover sting, DEA agents who posed as buyers bought drugs on nine occasions from Drug Llama on Dream Market, a then leading dark web market which has since being shut down by law enforcement. U.S Attorney Sherri Hobson stated that Drug Llama was known for their fentanyl pills, which were nicknamed “pressed blues.”
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The pills were designed as oxycodone and had an “M30” stamp on them. Drug Llama also had other illicit drugs, such as Percocet, real oxycodone, morphine, temazepam, Flexeril, an opiate powder pack, and amphetamine in its drug option on their website.
During one transaction with an undercover agent, who wanted to buy drugs from Drug Llama, Scanlan gloated about how she could sell 100 to 500 pills at a go. She, however, declined to meet the buyer in person and offered to mail the drugs to the undercover agent. Scanlan also described herself on her dark web account as a young professional woman with well-equipped skills for Operations Management for Start-up, Small, and Mid-Size businesses.
Federal agents subsequently arrested Scanlan, using the return address on the packages which were shipped to the undercover agents. The culprit carried out all drug transactions using the moniker “Samantha Cooper,” an identity that was later revealed to be the names of her two pet dogs. The address used to mail her illicit drugs was also traced by DEA agents, to an old business she ran. A PayPal account that had over thousands of transactions linked to Drug Llama drug sales was also discovered in the investigation.
A search warrant executed on her home in San Diego last month uncovered fentanyl pills, which she confessed to buying from a Mexican drug cartel. Scanlan now faces 20 to life in prison and is scheduled for sentencing in February next year.
The other half of Drug Llama and Scanlan’s partner in the crime organization, Brandon Arias, pleaded guilty to charges against him in July. Just like Scanlan, Arias was charged with misbranding drugs, selling counterfeit drugs, conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and illegal distributing of fentanyl. The 34-year-old also confessed to opening an account on Dream Market, which they used in selling thousands of synthetic opioids from October 2016 to August 2018.
According to prosecutors, during that time, the duo shared over $100,000 in profits, which they made from 800 online sales. He also added that they sold not less than 1,000 pills a week. Bandon Arias is custody and scheduled to be sentenced on November 5 this year.
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