Federal prosecutors on Friday charged a former Parma resident and a man who currently lives there with selling Xanax, marijuana and other drugs on the Dark Web.
Nicholas Powell, who now lives in Spring Hill, Florida, was charged with two counts of conspiracy to distribute drugs, distributing and advertising drugs on the Internet and a money laundering conspiracy.
Michael Gonzalez, a Parma resident, faces a single drug conspiracy charge.
Authorities say Powell used various monikers on several Dark Web platforms such as Silk Road 2, AlphaBay and HANSA. His monikers included “TheSource,” “BonnienClyde,” BnC,” “BCPHARMA” and “Money TS,” according to court filings.
Powell and Gonzalez also worked together to sell Xanax, according to a separate criminal complaint.
The new charges against both men were filed via a criminal information, which usually means a plea agreement is forthcoming.
Both men were arrested in June. Powell is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, while Gonzalez is free on bond.
The criminal information also seeks the forfeiture of hundreds of thousands of dollars of digital cryptocurrency seized from Powell.
Powell took Xanax orders and had Gonzalez fill them, Gonzalez told agents earlier this year. Gonzalez received cash in the mail on Powell’s behalf, the criminal complaints said.
Gonzalez told agents he oversaw the weighing and shipping of Xanax powder, and he claimed his business relationship with Powell ended when he ran out of the 500 grams of Xanax, according to the complaint.
Gonzalez made a few thousand dollars between December 2016 and March 2017. He and Powell often communicated through encrypted apps, court filings stated.
Agents interviewed Powell in May. He admitted to previously selling marijuana and Chinese steroids, and said he arranged for products to be sent directly from China to his customers, according to the complaint.
Powell also said he sent between $10,000 and $40,000 in digital currency at a time to a money launderer, court filings show.
Powell and Gonzalez’s arrests were part of a Justice Department operation announced in June to target Dark Web vendors who sell drugs. It started when Homeland Security agents in New York posed as a money launderer on market sites, exchanging U.S. currency for Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
Federal agents found many vendors during its investigation and opened more than 90 cases nationwide, according to a news release.
Powell and Gonzalez’s case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Christopher Boyko.
Nicholas J. Powell, 32, and Michael Gonzalez, 27, former and current residents of Parma, Ohio, respectively, were charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and laundering money using the dark web. The complaint alleges that Powell used various monikers on Darknet marketplaces as part of his criminal scheme, including “TheSource,” “BonnienClyde,” BnC,” “BCPHARMA,” and “Money TS.” The conspiracy operated on multiple Darknet marketplaces, including Silk Road 2, AlphaBay, and HANSA. The conspiracy involved distributing Xanax, steroids, marijuana and other drugs across the country using these and other Darknet monikers. Powell and Gonzalez would then launder the funds as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Etherium, and Komodo through individuals specializing in money laundering on Darknet marketplaces. At the time of arrest, law enforcement had already seized approximately $437,000 in cryptocurrencies from Powell.