Three suspected drug dealers believed to have been running a lucrative venture on the dark web are finally in custody after months of investigation undertaken by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Earlier this month, 20-year-old Duc Cao of Orange County, 21-year-old Wyatt Pasek of Santa Ana and 22-year-old Isaiah Suarez of New Port Beach were arrested under suspicion of operating a drug business on the very popular darknet market, Dream Market.
Around the same time the Office of the U.S. Attorney for Central District Of California announced the arrest, a criminal complaint was launched against the three suspects, accusing them of selling drugs on Dream Market under the username Oxygod.
The resulting joint operation between the DEA and the Costa Mesa Police Department lasted six months during which they gathered enough evidence to make a strong case against the three.
Suspects Believed to Have Distributed over 100,000 Fake Pills
Prior to the operation, Costa Mesa Police Department had come across a number of blue counterfeit pills with the markings “A 125” stamped on them.
According to a criminal police affidavit, it was later as they tested for fentanyl that the police discovered that the pills contained cyclopropyl fentanyl.
Costa Mesa police quickly narrowed their search for the source of the counterfeit pills to Pasek.
Opioid overdoses have been on the rise and the majority of these drugs come from darknet markets where fentanyl in all forms, including nasal spray, is being peddled to everyone with access to the dark web.
The Takedown & Arrests
Rather than pounce on the 21-year-old suspect immediately, police maintained close surveillance on Pasek and were rewarded with the location of one of the group’s pill labs in Newport Beach and the identities of the two other members.
Similarly, the authorities kept a close watch on Cao and Suarez as soon as they confirmed that the three were working together. This paid off as well.
In early March, a surveillance team picked up on Cao as he dropped off a number of packages at the post office. Police quickly obtained a warrant and managed to arrest several suspects in different states. A combined total of 1,400 counterfeit A 125 pills were recovered in operation. This was a momentous day for the investigators.
On the second day of April, Cao was spotted at Pasek’s house after which he traveled to the Newport Beach pill lab. After leaving the lab, he drove straight to a post office in Santa Ana and deposited 13 packages, similar to the first batch he was seen depositing in March.
Police obtained a court order to open the 13 packages. All of them contained the counterfeit blue A 125 pills and tested positive for fentanyl, according to the affidavit.
The following day, police made their move. They started by raiding Suarez’s apartment where they found not only fake oxycodone but also fake Xanax pills. It should be noted that Oxygod, a Dream Market vendor with a 4.54 rating after over 200 reviews, only dealt in fake oxycodone pills. The raid unearthed pill binders, an unknown sum of cash and over 13,000 fake oxycodone pills.
Mysteries Remain in the Case
All three could be facing sentences of over 20 years each if convicted. However, this doesn’t seem to solve the case completely.
The last login date on Oxygod’s account was observed to be a day after the group was taken into custody. Furthermore, the issue of the fake Xanax pills remains unsolved, as does the mystery of the second research chemical used together with fentanyl to create the fake oxycodone pills.
It is believed that the trio sold an upwards of 100,000 fake oxycodone pills before the police caught up with them.