Colorado Man Arrested for Selling Xanax on the Dark web
Western Colorado Drug Task Force investigators arrested a Colorado man suspected of pressing his own counterfeit alprazolam pills and selling the pills on various dark web markets. The suspected dark web vendor had allegedly informed the police that he had been selling on the Darknet but had “only made a few sales.”
According to The Daily Sentinel, Mesa County Sheriff’s deputies and a single Grand Junction Police Department officer joined the Western Colorado Drug Task Force investigators as part of an ongoing investigation into drug trafficking in Colorado’s Western Slope region. This investigation focused specifically on the actions of Richard A. Henry, a 32-year-old from Grand Junction, Colorado.
Henry’s apartment was raided in Grand Junction where Henry had been living for an unknown amount of time. Detectives have not described the information that led them to believe Henry—or someone at Henry’s address—had been selling drugs on the darknet. The case went unreported for several days after Henry’s arrest. Reports from Western Colorado Drug Task Force detectives described a scenario that resembles a milder version of the raid at the home of the Dream market fentanyl dealer “sovietbear.” Although Kyle Enos, the 25-year-old behind the sovietbear account, ran a much larger operation, it resembled Henry’s alleged operation to an extent. The media coverage was completely different, though.
Henry’s case went without media coverage for days, even though law enforcement officers participating in the raid needed “significant protective gear,” one Western Colorado Drug Task Force investigator wrote in his report. The protective gear was needed out of concern for the lives of the officers conducting the raid. In the United States, no public records mention fatal overdoses occurring during a raid at a location where fentanyl is found. However, officers have been hospitalized on numerous occasions. And fatally overdosing is not necessarily unrealistic as fentanyl can be ingested easily through the nasal passage or even the skin. When the National Crime Agency (NCA) organized the raid at Enos’ house, agents wore similar protective gear to prevent accidental inhalation of fentanyl. Footage of the officers entering the Enos’ home quickly surfaced and the media had a field day. No pictures of the raid at Henry’s house have surfaced.
The NCA knew that Enos had been ordering fentanyl and other synthetic opioids from China, repackaging them, and then shipping them to customers through the Dream darknet market. Enos’ case may have attracted more media attention due to the international element of the case; the US Federal Bureau of Investigation helped the NCA identify Enos. Even though the reports filed by Western Colorado Drug Task Force investigators never mentioned the events that occurred prior to the raid, the events likely resembled the investigation into any number of dark web vendors. One of the recurring themes in the cases involving dark web vendors who press pills is package seizures by United States Customs and Border Protection Services.
Even though the specific details remain undisclosed, we know that Colorado authorities learned that Henry had been receiving packages of alprazolam and fentanyl from various sources who had been reportedly selling the powders on darknet marketplaces themselves. They knew that he had been selling the drugs on the dark web. Henry, according to the reports revealed additional information after the raid. One detective noted that Henry was very cooperative.
Inside Henry’s house, law enforcement officers discovered a pill press and plastic bags with small amounts of powder in them. They also found two Xanax pills. One investigator wrote that they questioned Henry on what they would find in his closet. “I was concerned for the safety of my team should he have any fentanyl powder,” the investigator wrote. Henry confirmed they would find fentanyl. And sure enough they did. That found bags of powder that tested positive for fentanyl and hundreds of “blue pills” that Henry confirmed contained fentanyl. These were presumably counterfeit oxycodone ready for distribution.
The search also yielded hundreds of pressed Xanax bars. Henry told the investigators, according to the report, that he had been ordering both alprazolam and fentanyl from dark web vendors and paying them with Bitcoin. He explained that he ordered the pill press for $500 online. He admitted that he pressed counterfeit Xanax (he did not mention pressing fake oxycodone pills but did reveal that he “usually” used the pill press for pressing alprazolam bars (Xanax bars). An investigator wrote that Henry also admitted he flipped the pressed pills through his own darknet vendor account on an undisclosed darknet market. “He did not want to peddle his wares close to home,” the investigator wrote.
Henry said that he had only “made a few sales” online. Mesa County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Henry on one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, possession of a Schedule I or II substance, possession of a Schedule III or IV substance, and possession with intent to distribute alprazolam. Judge Michael Grattan released him on an OR bond on Monday, August 21, 2018. The next court appearance has not yet been scheduled.