Six people in Georgia have been indicted and charged in federal court for charges related to manufacturing and distributing drugs through the dark web.
According to Bobby Christine, U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Georgia, the drug conspiracy dates back to 2016.
It all started when the group of six made numerous purchases from the dark web using cryptocurrency, and used industrial-grade machinery to mass-produce the pills.
The drugs were sold throughout Georgia via the dark web.
The Six Individuals and Their Charges
The names and ages of the alleged offenders are Walker Forrester, 24, Kolbie Watters, 22, Jonathan Lester, 22, Morgan Slaton, 22, Armand Saedi, 27, and Larry Overton, 46.
Forrester and Watters are both charged with conspiracy to obtain with intent to distribute controlled substances, distribution of controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and maintaining drug premises.
They both were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, possessing an unregistered firearm, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime related to drug trafficking.
If Forrester and Watters are found guilty on all charges, both will face sentences with a maximum of life in prison.
Lester, Slaton and Saedi were each charged with conspiracy to possess controlled substances with intent to distribute, and distribution of controlled substances.
If they’re convicted of the two charges, each offender will face sentences up to five years behind bars.
The older team member, Overton, was charged with conspiracy to possess controlled substances with the intent to distribute, as well as the distribution of controlled substances.
Overton was also charged with using or maintaining drug premises. If he is convicted on each charge, Overton will face a sentence up to 20 years in prison.
In the indictment, both Watters and Lester were also charged with aggravated assault and felony murder in Walton County, Georgia.
Allegedly, the young men beat and suffocated a co-conspirator and suspect whose body they buried in a shallow grave.
The Timeline of the Investigation
It all started around September of 2017 when Forrester bought an industrial-grade pill press he later used for manufacturing drug pills.
This caught the attention of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
On state charges in Harlem, the police arrested Forrester, along with Watters and a minor in November 2017.
The officers found marijuana, a sawed-off shotgun and more than 5,200 counterfeit Xanax pills inside the vehicle.
To manufacture the thousands of counterfeit Xanax pills per month, the investigators allege that Forrester purchased punch dies, binding agents and Alprazolam as the main ingredient.
The illegal elements are believed to be bought from the dark web using cryptocurrency.
The fake Xanax pills were sold either through the conventional distribution of illegal drugs or on dark web markets.
In an attempt to avoid detection, the six members of this group owned four pill presses arranged in different locations in the Middle, Northern and Southern Districts of Georgia.
One of the pill presses is alleged to have been placed in Overton’s home, located in Harlem, in return for drugs.
During the investigation, he was hospitalized after overdosing himself on synthetic opioids.
Christine stated in a press release that this case highlights the threat of drug trafficking as well as violent crimes associated with cyber technology.
However, as Christine added, law enforcement agencies will continue fighting against these crimes.
FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Chris Hacker also reminded of the opioid crisis within Georgia’s communities and stated that the police will continue their commitment to targeting those who worsen the problem.
If convicted, each of the six defendants will also be a subject to substantial terms of supervised release and fines after completing their prison sentences.
In the federal system, there is no parole.