Two members in Cincinnati were captured and sentenced for running a dark web market vendor shop under the name “Pill Cosby.” The pair were found guilty on October 11th and will face up to 18 years in prison. The pair produced over 5400 sales on Dream Market and opened a shop on Empire, Sleep, Nightmare, Silk Road 3.1, and Wall Street. They raked in more than $2.8 million during their operation. However, Pill Cosby is no more. Let’s look at how the unstoppable duo reached the end of the road.
No More ‘Pill Cosby’
Two leaders of a prolific dark web trafficking and money laundering syndicate, dubbed “Pill Cosby”, were sentenced by the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to 16 and 18 years in prison.
On October 11, Khlari Sirotkin, 39, was found guilty by the District Court of Southern Ohio for drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The man from Colorado received 16 years (192 months) in federal prison.
His partner in crime, Sean Deaver, 39, was found guilty by the U.S. District Court a few months back. The federal courts sentenced the Nevada male to 18 years (216 months) in prison.
The U.S. States Attorney’s Office for the District of Ohio released a statement following the sentencing of the two individuals. The attorney’s office claimed that both individuals formed part of the five defendants indicted in 2020.
According to the FBI report, the full team is:
- KHLARI SIROTKIN
- KELLY STEPHENS
- SEAN DEA VER
- ABBY JONES
- SASHA SIROTKIN
“The defendants specialized in the manufacturing and distribution of more than one million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills and laundered approximately $2.8 million from 2013 until 2020. The pressed fentanyl pills, along with heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, were shipped to the Southern District of Ohio and throughout the country. Co-conspirators also disguised fentanyl as authentic, pharmaceutical opioids.”U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Ohio
Allegedly, Sean and Khlari headed the leadership of the notorious dark web vendor profiles Pill Cosby and Slanggang. The drug and money laundering operations operated on popular dark web marketplaces such as Dream Market, Empire, Sleep, Nightmare, Silk Road 3.1, and Wall Street.
The dark web vendor Pill Cosby made over 5400 sales on Dream Market, with hundreds more being concluded on the Wickr chat room. The syndicate used Tor networks and encryption services to remain untraceable.
Almost all the Darknet Markets they used have seized operation, if you’re looking for Darknet Markets in 2023, see here.
FBI agents claimed that several group members acted under nicknames and used Whatsapp or iMessage to communicate. Khlari Sirotkin used the pseudonym “Killa B”, and Sean used the names “Interstatefatz’ or just “Fatz”.
The darknet criminal organization specialized in manufacturing and distributing over 1 million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills and laundering around $2.8 million over a 6-year period from 2013 until 2020. One of the longest-ever recorded Darknet Vendor operations
Khlari Sirotken was the alleged money mastermind of the group, aiding his co-conspirators to run their dealer accounts on the dark web. Sirotken purchased several counterfeit drug-manufacturing items using an Amazon account registered in his mother’s email address.
The group shipped pressed fentanyl pills, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine to the Southern District of Ohio and throughout the US. Users on the dark web purchased these items with Bitcoin.
FBI agents estimate that the group sold around
- 33.9 kilograms of fentanyl in five months of 2019
- Agents seized approximately 2.5 kilograms of fentanyl
- 5,095 pressed Xanax
- 50 suboxone
- 16.5 grams of cocaine
- 37 grams of crystal meth
- 12 grams of black tar heroin
- an industrial pill press
- 5,908 pounds of dried marijuana with an estimated street value of $9 million
- $80,191 in cash
- 10 firearms
- One pound of fentanyl
According to the investigation, the FBI has seized a sum of money equal to at least $1,100,000 in cash.
Investigation Leading To Arrest
Pill Cosby’s activity on the dark web caught the attention of law and drug enforcement agencies way back in 2018.
Between April and September in 2018, several enforcement agencies combined in a joint undercover investigation. The main team came from Cincinnati’s FBI office as a part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
As a part of the lengthy investigation, law enforcement officers spent thousands of dollars purchasing drugs and tracing packages. Law enforcement officers purchased over 587 fentanyl pills from the group’s dark web vendors with Bitcoin.
FBI agents placed orders through the dark web and received 15 different shipments of products in Ohio. Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Department of Justice combined their efforts to trace the origins of the products.
The investigators from the FBI followed the flow of the money and linked the group’s Wickr chat room address to Changelly.com. The FBI’s Indictment order indicated a Changelly address registered to “[email protected]” email address. As you can expect, it was an OpSec failure that led to the teams capture. Here’s how you can avoid it!
Ironically the crew knew the importance of their OpSec as indicated in this statement by Kharli
“Shit like this is why it’s so important to use a Tumblr and proper operational security. Our process as soon as this technology
already exists and even though it’s not good monopolized it’s definitely been a function possibility
for a long time. Just don’t deviate from the system at all And you’ll be good I promise[.] But I do
suggest that you do like we were talking about and start spreading it out more[.] Hit me up if you
want to chop it up More about that anytime”.
Changelly’s KYC/ AML policies required users to validate their accounts with a driver’s license or identification documents. Agents discovered an attached image of a Nevada driver’s license in the name of Khlari Sirotken.
According to the FBI’s investigation, the same “[email protected]” address appeared on several crypto trading platforms. Khlari registered accounts at Coinbase, Kraken, and Binance.
Khlari converted the illicit cryptocurrency into various cryptocurrencies through Changelly.com, in an effort to remain untraceable. He then converted cryptocurrency into U.S dollars and transferred them to several U.S. Banks accounts registered to members of the syndicate.
The transactions linked FBI agents to five individuals, including Sean Deaver. Furthermore, The FBI’s indictment order revealed electronic communications between the five individuals, which led them to the illicit funds.
Electronic communications between Khlari and Sean revealed the magnitude of the drug trafficking syndicate. Khlari bragged to other members of the group that he stood to gain $1.8 million from the proceeds of his marijuana farm.
The FBI’s investigation uncovered a conversation between Sean Deaver ‘Fatz’ and one of the other three conspirators. Sean revealed that he profited close to $20,000 through a single transaction. You can read all the messages in the FBI report. The conversations and linked traces of illicit funds led the investigators to file for an indictment order with the U.S. District Court.
Cincinnati’s FBI agents worked together with Homeland Security and Drug Enforcement Agencies to complete a detailed report of their investigation. Law enforcement agents managed to link the crypto transactions and wallet addresses of the groups to the illegal activities connected on dark web marketplaces.
On the strength of the evidence obtained, law enforcement compiled an indictment order with the U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio, for the prosecution of the group. Agents laid 21 charges of conspiracy to launder money and drug trafficking against the five defendants.
In early January 2020, several months after the investigation had concluded, The District Court of Southern Ohio granted an indictment order. The order led to the later arrest of Sean Deaver, Khlari Sirotkin, and three other individuals.
Hey there, I’m a dark web geek who’s been around for the last 8 years. More precisely, I’m livedarknet’s senior content writer who’s been writing about darknet marketplaces, tutorials, and cybersecurity stuff for educational purposes.