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Detroit Darknet Drug Vendor “opiateconnect” Pleads Guilty

“Opiateconnect” Pleas Guilty
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A darknet vendor drug trafficking operation based in Detroit, has pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including distributing illicit and counterfeit drugs and using firearms in the commission of a crime. The guilty plea follows a detailed investigation revealing his involvement in the sale of counterfeit pills resembling alprazolam (Xanax) and the seizure of significant assets, including cryptocurrencies and firearms.

Key Insights

  • Victor Hernandez, a 30-year-old resident of Detroit, has pleaded guilty to charges related to dark web drug trafficking.
  • The operation involved distributing illicit and counterfeit pills, laundering money, and using firearms.
  • Hernandez operated as darknet vendor “opiateconnect.”
  • A clandestine drug lab was discovered in a Detroit residence where the operation was based.
  • Seized items include approximately $1 million in cryptocurrency, over $300,000 in cash, multiple firearms, an industrial pill press, and various controlled and counterfeit substances.
  • Hernandez’s charges include conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, money laundering, dispensing counterfeit drugs, and possessing firearms in drug trafficking.
  • He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
  • The case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation.
  • The Detroit Dark Web Task Force conducted the investigation, resulting in several disruptions and arrests related to drug trafficking.
  • Hernandez’s sister, Carolyn Hernandez-Taylor, was also involved and has been sentenced to five years in prison.
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Detroit resident, 30-year-old Victor Hernandez, has admitted and found guilty to multiple charges that relate to his ongoing leadership of a drug trafficking ring. 

Hernandez has confessed to charges including conspiracy to distribute illegal substances, as well as conspiracy to money laundering, the distribution of counterfeit pills, and the use of firearms to improve his advances in his criminal activities. 

The investigation was headed up by the Detroit Dark Web Task Force and spanned over many months, eventually finding Hernandez’s operation under the alias “opiateconnect” on an undisclosed darknet marketplace.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Hernandez will have to serve a minimum of 10 years in federal prison. The agreement is made up of several serious charges, which are: 

The planning to distribute controlled substances, which could end up seeing him face up to 40 years in prison; money laundering, with a maximum penalty of 20 years; the distribution of counterfeit drugs, potentially leading to 10 years behind bars; and carrying a firearm to further his drug trafficking activities, which adds a mandatory consecutive sentence of 5 years. 

Takedown of a Detroit Drug Hub

The investigation, which was led by the Detroit Dark Web Task Force, ended up pointing them to a somewhat normal Detroit residence that was found to be the hub for the distribution of a variety of illicit and counterfeit drugs. 

There was a variety of illegal substances found at the residence. Some of the seized substances were fake pills created to look like alprazolam, which is commonly known as Xanax, a medication that is normally prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. However, these counterfeit pills were made from unregulated chemicals, which created a health risk as they are not safe for human consumption.

This operation was very much underestimated and is now seen as highly sophisticated, as the law enforcement seized around $1,000,000 in cryptocurrency, over $300,000 in cash, multiple firearms, and an industrial-sized pill press, among other items during the raid of the Detroit residence.

Commitment to Stopping Counterfeit Drug Operations

“This case leading up to the guilty plea, shows the teamwork among state and federal law enforcement. Counterfeit pills, especially those that look like common prescription drugs, are particularly dangerous. Our office will keep working to find and stop the illegal production of these pills in our area to ensure the safety of our community.”

The U.S. Attorney, Dawn Ison stated

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Detroit’s acting Special Agent in Charge, Shawn Gibson, stated that this plea is a victory for both law enforcement and the Detroit community. Drug traffickers, whether it be online or on the streets, hurt our communities. They are determined to keep working with partners to break up these dark web drug operations. 

Together with HSI, they are committed to protecting communities from operations like Hernandez’s, selling fake pills and illegal drugs. This case shows that criminals can’t hide on the dark web from law enforcement’s mission to keep the public safe.

“This plea is not just a win for law enforcement, but a win for our Detroit community. Whether on the dark web or on a street corner, drug traffickers seek to poison our communities. We will remain steadfast in our law enforcement partnerships to dismantle these networks wherever we find them.

HSI Detroit acting Special Agent in Charge Shawn Gibson

The case of Hernandez is part of a broader Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation which is aimed to identify and break down high-level drug traffickers and criminal operations that might pose a threat to the people of the United States. 

The Detroit Dark Web Task Force, which is made up of a variety of federal and state law enforcement agencies, continues to break down drug trafficking organizations operating on the dark web, ensuring the safety and security of communities across the nation.