Florida men used bitcoin, darknet to hide sales of fentanyl-laced pills, officials say

WEST PARK, Fla. — Two Florida men are accused of selling narcotics, including fentanyl, online in exchange for bitcoin, federal authorities said.

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Luis Miguel Teixeira-Spencer, 31, and Olatunji Dawodu, 36, were arrested Tuesday in West Park, an area of western Broward County, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

A federal grand jury on Monday indicted both men for illegal sales of opioids on the darknet, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

According to the indictment, both men were charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 400 grams of a mixture containing fentanyl. A third man, Alex Ogando of Providence, Rhode Island was indicted on the same charge and was arrested Tuesday, according to the news release.

Spencer and Dawodu accepted payments in bitcoin through darknet markets to conceal the drug sales, the Sun-Sentinel reported. According to the criminal complaint, both men had been accepting bitcoin as payment since February 2017.

Using variations of the “alias johncarter7,” Spencer advertised oxycodone M30 pills for sale “pressed with just the right amount of fentanyl,” according to the indictment. The indictment alleged that Spencer sold the pills on darknet market sites including AlphaBay, Dream, Wall Street and Empire, WPLG reported.

Undercover detectives messaged “johncarter7″ in April 2019 and placed orders for the opioids, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The payments for the drugs were made in bitcoin and transferred to a Binance account -- a cryptocurrency wallet -- registered to Spencer, the newspaper reported. Armed with that information, investigators said they were able to learn Spencer’s address, email and telephone number.

Spencer and Dawodu used a public storage unit in the nearby city of Davie to conduct their business activities, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

“The use of sophisticated technology and virtual currency may raise unique challenges to investigating these cases, but this investigation demonstrates that law enforcement can nonetheless root out the sale of dangerous opioids on the darknet,” Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said in a statement. “We will not let the use of sophisticated cyber technology impair our ability to combat the problem of opioid abuse.”