A counterfeit pills dealer has been handed a 13-year-prison sentence, for using the dark web to sell and distribute illicit drugs. 24-year-old Stephan Caamano was sentenced to prison by U.S District Court Judge Michael Mihm on January 6, 2019. Reports state that, federal prosecutors wanted a 17 and half sentence, whiles Camaano’s attorney argued for 10 years.

The counterfeit pills dealer pleaded guilty in April 2018, to numerous federal charges against him including distribution of a controlled substance, engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity, and money laundering. The Champaign, Illinois native was reported to have sold and distributed over 4.3 million counterfeit pills across the United States and the rest of the world. Caamano also used the U.S Postal Service to distribute his counterfeit anti-anxiety pills to his customers.

Counterfeit pills

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Caamano, operated his fake Xanax production between March 2017 and May 2018, out of the basement of his home in the 1500 block of Glenshire Drive in an upscale southwest Champaign subdivision. According to him, what started as a small counterfeit production scheme, soon grew to become a big dark web enterprise with over thousands of request coming in a day. He added that, he started using the dark web once the counterfeit pills business started to boom.

According to court documents, Caamano, was importing Alprazolam, the active ingredient used in producing Xanax from China. The counterfeit pills dealer would them used a pill presser in his basement to make fake tablets that looked exactly like that of the Pfizer-produced product. Caamano’s product was also very close in terms on chemistry to the Pfizer product.

After productions, Caamano would then mail the packages through the U.S mail to his customers both in the states and across the globe. Due to the number of order he received daily, the counterfeit pills dealer was reportedly mailing over 500 products a day. A search on his house also uncovered a room which was only meant for packaging, whiles another room was devoted to mailing only.  Court documents stated that, Caamano’s mailings from area drop boxes were so large and frequent that, the mail carrier on that route lodged a formal complaint with his supervisors.

According to a presentence investigation, Caamaro was born in New York City to South Korean parents, who divorced when he was still a kid. He remained with his father who later remarried, but frequently visited his mother South Korea. The counterfeit pills dealer was admitted to the U.S Naval Academy but stated that, he only stayed a year before transferring to University of California at Berkeley, because he was unhappy with the military. Caamano graduated with a degree in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley.

Caamano proceeded to have a doctoral program in mathematics at the University of Illinois in Urbana. He again attended only one semester, this time, channeling all his time and energy into his counterfeit pills production scheme. His dark web counterfeit anti-anxiety pills production came to light in 2016, when law enforcement officials were notified about his pill presses he was buying from China.

During his sentencing, Caamano told Judge Mihm that he was honestly ashamed of his actions of which Judge Mihm responded that given his 19 months in custody, he probably would feel that way. He added that, his actions were selfish and his business was influenced by financial reasons. Caamano had no prior criminal contacts and ended his apology by saying that he should have being more aware of how much pain he was causing given the serious nature of the opioid crisis in the United States.

Caamano’s defense attorney, Audrey Thompson argued that, her client had battled with anxiety and depression since childhood and thus because of living in New York during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers that took the life’s of thousands. She also admitted that her client told her he used Xanax himself.

Attorney Thompson told the court that Caamano endured a traumatic childhood as he was abused by his step-parents and later on by a boyfriend. She added that, the dark web drug dealer felt “isolated” when he went to the University of Illinois and suffered an “implosion” that was hard to explain. “It began with his use to manage his own anxiety and depression and then escalated from there,” Thompson added.

Counterfeit pills

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Defense Attorney Thompson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Ritzer stated that, estimated number of pills Caamano manufactured was 4,333,333. Judge Mihm concluded that, at a wholesale cost of a little over $10 per pill, the total value of his sales would amount to $44.76 million.

U.S. Attorney Ritzer, revealed that, Judge Mihm requested to know where the proceeds Caamano made from his dark web drug enterprise went to. According to her, Caamano stated that, he was locked out of the numerous online cryptocurrency accounts he stored digital currencies. He stated that, he passwords had expired while he was being held in custody and couldn’t renew them.

Judge Mihm shot back at that claim, stating that he had trouble believing that.  “It’s hard for me to imagine that having gone to all this trouble to amass that wealth, that he would let it go,” he stated. Additional reports state that, Judge Mihm had planned to enter a forfeiture order of over $2.1 million in cash and property that Caamano owned. That included his house in Glenshire, a Toyota Rav $, a part of his gross profits and contents of a bank account.

Source: News Gazette


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