Melissa Scanlan, 32, admitted her role in a darkweb drug distribution conspiracy where she had operated a darkweb vendor account under the name “The Drug Llama.” She pleaded guilty to ten felonies in connection with the role she had played in the drug distribution operation.
Scanlan and her co-defendant Brandon Arias, 34, lived in San Diego, California, where they also launched their lucrative operation. At an earlier court appearance, Arias pleaded guilty to eight felonies in connection with the case. Scanlan pleaded guilty to the following charges:
- One count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl;
- five counts of distributing fentanyl;
- one count of selling counterfeit drugs;
- one count of misbranding drugs;
- one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering;
- and one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death.
In court, Scanlan admitted setting up the vendor account “TheDrugLlama” on Dream Market in October 2016. She claimed that she had operated or helped operate the account and related drug trafficking until August 2018. She admitted selling 52,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills that had actually contained fentanyl. Scanlan and Arias earned roughly $100,000 as The Drug Llama and split the profits evenly. According to statements made in the plea agreement, Scanlan had participated in a money laundering conspiracy with members of a Mexican cartel.
Scanlan’s role in the conspiracy was to sell large quantities of fentanyl and also to source all of the fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl pills for TheDrugLlama account. In that role, Scanlan received — and ultimately distributed — at least 1,000 fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl pills per week from Fausto Ramirez and another member of a Mexican cartel. Fausto Ramirez and the other Mexican cartel member (both residents and citizens of Mexico) would typically send drug couriers, including Norma Dominguez and April Kelly, across the border to the United States to deliver fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl pills to Scanlan and Arias at their residence in San Diego, California. The drug couriers, including Norma Dominguez and April Kelly, would transport these pills in body cavities and deliver the pills to Scanlan and Arias. Once Scanlan and Arias obtained the fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl pills, Scanlan would provide the drug proceeds to the drug couriers so that the couriers could transport the drug proceeds across the border into Mexico and deliver those drug proceeds to Fausto Ramirez and the other Mexican cartel member.
“Illicit opioid distribution, whether online or through conventional drug distribution methods, and the resulting overdoses and deaths are a continuing national crisis; those who contribute to that crisis through their illegal actions will be brought to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Charles L. Grinstead, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Kansas City Field Office. “We are fully committed to disrupting and dismantling illegal prescription drug distribution networks that misuse the internet at the expense of public health and safety.”
After Scanlan’s initial arrest on August 2, 2018, Scanlan and Arias dismantled TheDrugLlama account, and created a new vendor account on the Dream Market called “GYPSYMAJICPOTIONS.” This new dark web account sold many of the same illegal narcotics that were previously offered for sale on TheDrugLlama account, including the fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl pills.
That did not last long. She has been in federal custody since the second arrest in September 2018. Her case is set for sentencing on February 10, 2020. She faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison