Another Canadian in Bitcoin ecosystem, who was the 3rd largest fentanyl dealer, targeted by US in Operation Darkness Falls

By Christine Duhaime | August 23rd, 2018

Operation Darkness Falls nets Canadian fentanyl dealer

The US DoJ, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the US Postal Service and DEA announced several arrests in Operation Darkness Falls, an international operation that sought to ferret out the identities of people selling illegal drugs, especially fentanyl, on the darknet that accepted Bitcoin and other digital currencies for payment.

A Canadian named Robert Kiessling was arrested in Canada. He was vendor DF44 on AlphaBay, the Canadian-owned darknet trading platform that facilitated the sale and purchase of illegal drugs, guns, weapons, stolen identities and such, using Bitcoin and other digital currencies.

When AlphaBay was shut down by the US government, Kiessling moved to Dream Market. Under DF44, he openly promoted the sale of fentanyl (below). Kiessling committed suicide after his arrest before he could be extradited to the US. He was the 3rd largest fentanyl vendor in North America.

Largest fentanyl vendor also arrested in US

Also arrested were Matthew Roberts and Holly Roberts of San Antonio, Texas, who are alleged to have created and operated several darknet accounts, including MH4Life on Dream Market, Silk Road and on Canada’s AlphaBay to sell fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD, meth and other illegal drugs.

The Roberts are alleged to be the most prolific darknet fentanyl vendor in the US and the 4th largest in the world.

MH4Life seems to have known his identity was discovered on the darknet because he posted a “Code Red” post before being arrested (below).

Also arrested as part of Operation Darkness Falls were Americans Antoin Austin, known as Dark King 22, who pleaded guilty to operating a fentanyl business from an apartment with children and Ryan Kluth, known as Panachecak, who pleaded guilty to selling fentanyl and child pornography on the darknet. They both used Bitcoin for payment.

Warning from Jeff Sessions that he will “put you in jail” if you facilitate the fentanyl crisis killing Americans

US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, held the press conference announcing Operation Darkness Falls and he specifically sent a “warning” to, inter alia, “foreign nationals” and foreign companies, including CEOs, that if they put profits over the lives of American citizens in the fentanyl crisis, he is coming after them and will “put you in jail” or “make you pay.”

The warning includes a warning to Canadians and Canadian companies, particularly Canadians in Vancouver.

That’s because the DEA has said on numerous occasions, including in the National Drug Threat Assessment, that fentanyl is coming into the US primarily from Canadians (Vancouver) who import it from China. Although fentanyl in the US also originates from Mexican cartels, according to the DEA, it is less desirable and less pure. Canadians buy fentanyl illegally from China using Bitcoin and other digital currencies so the DEA, FBI and DHS are mapping out those distribution channels to identify those in Canada involved in the fentanyl trade and those who trade or facilitate the trade of Bitcoin and other digital currencies for people in China and in Vancouver that fuel the fentanyl crisis.

Those in Canada who import fentanyl from China destined for the US cannot do it without financial and other services and no doubt the AG will be following the money trail.

The DEA has said that fentanyl vendors in China prefer to get paid in Bitcoin using OTC Bitcoin traders. OTC Bitcoin traders are traders who buy and sell Bitcoin personally, usually without physical offices, who are not registered for anti-money laundering purposes. If the fentanyl trade is carried out from Vancouver, it would mean that there are OTC Bitcoin traders doing large cash transactions for Chinese foreign nationals in Vancouver.

Including news of the arrest of Canadian Robert Kiessling no doubt emphasized the message that Canadians are on notice. The fact that AlphaBay operated for so long in Canada without impediment and had Canadian bank accounts is likely a concern of US regulators.

Law enforcement officers reiterated that they are using all of their resources to infiltrate the darknet to identify and prosecute those involved in fentanyl trafficking using Bitcoin and digital currencies and those that facilitate them in whatever country they may be in, which means that digital currency exchanges around the world should be extra vigilant in applying and enforcing anti-money laundering law when on-boarding customers and monitoring transactions.

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