PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Three people from Portland and Southwest Washington are accused in a plot that allegedly involves dark websites and Bitcoin to pay for drugs from China and Canada.
The Department of Homeland Security said the painkiller Fentanyl Citrate was mailed all over the U.S.
Steven Locke and Channing Lacey are in custody in Multnomah County. It is unclear where the third suspect, Lacey’s boyfriend Brandon Corde Hubbard, is.
According to federal documents, Hubbard sold Fentanyl Citrate through so-called dark Internet websites that enable online anonymity. Users pay for drugs and other illegal goods with the virutal bitcoin, which further promotes anonymity.
Lacey’s neighbors said they had no idea the drug ring was working right under their noses.
“I just talked to her out the window,” neighbor Hannah Furlong told KOIN 6 News. “She seemed like a nice lady.”
Federal agents said an 18-year-old from North Dakota, Bailey Henke, died after taking the drugs. The Grand Forks Herald reported Henke died in January from powdered fentanyl, and police in that area believe it is a factor in several other recent overdoses.
Hubbard allegedly sold the drugs to Henke before he passed away. Federal agents were able to track the drug back to Hubbard through his IP address in Portland.
Neighbors said Hubbard buried the Fentanyl Citrate in the dirt outside his apartment. He also shipped packages with drugs to his friend, Steven Locke, who owns a business in Woodland, Washington, to make the purchases from China look less suspicious.
So-called dark websites are sites “guarded by encryption mechanisms such as Tor that allow users to visit them anonymously,” according to Vox.com. Other dark sites like “password-protected forums (are) where hackers trade secrets and stolen credit card numbers.”
Dark websites are places where drugs are bought and sold, hacking techniques are discussed, child pornography is traded and so on, Vox.com said.