Two men — one from Texas and the other from California — could face life in prison after they were indicted for allegedly using the dark web and encrypted messaging apps to sell more than 120,000 fake oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl.
Rajiv Srinivasan, 37, of Houston, Texas, and Michael Ta, 24, of Westminster, California, were charged in a 19-count indictment “in a conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine,” the Justice Department said in a press release Friday.
Srinivasan allegedly sold the drugs on “Darkode,” a dark web forum notoriously used for cybercrime, as well other sites on the dark web. He would advertise and sell counterfeit M30 oxycodone pills containing fentanyl on these forums.
He would also use the encrypted messaging application Wickr to speak with and sell drugs to thousands of customers across the country. Srinivasan allegedly received virtual currency as payment before then routing that virtual currency through cryptocurrency exchanges.
The indictment alleges that between May and November, the two men sold 123,188 fentanyl pills, more than 143 kilograms of methamphetamine, as well as smaller quantities of fentanyl powder, black tar heroin and cocaine.
And between February and November, they sold more than 7,000 pills to an undercover agent they believed was a drug customer.
According to the indictment, Ta spoke with Srinivasan about drug orders, obtained fentanyl-laced pills and methamphetamine, stored the drugs in his home and mailed packages of drugs to customers who had ordered them from Srinivasan.
Srinivasan was sent to jail without bond and is being transported from Texas to California to stand trial. Ta was released on bond and his arraignment is scheduled for December 22.
The statutory maximum sentence for the conspiracy charge alleged in the indictment is life in federal prison, according to the indictment.