Canadian Law Enforcement Bust Two Darknet Vendors
In Kelowna, Canada, law enforcement rounded up two suspected carfentanil dealers as part of an operation known as “Project E-Neophile.” The suspects have allegedly been selling fentanyl and carfentanil on the darknet. According to the RCMP, the dealers operated part of Canada’s most “sophisticated drug organization” responsible for the distribution of the hyper potent opioids.
The suspects, James Nelson and his wife Cassie Bonthoux, used their clothing store as one of the bases of operation. Sgt. Alex Lynch of the Kelowna RCMP Street Enforcement Unit explained that the investigation began in September 2016 when police intercepted packages destined for addresses in the United States and Canada.
At some point, they “went silent on the darknet,” Sgt. Lynch said. They resurfaced after creating a new account in July 2017. They went silent and then started selling again after Alphabay disappeared – assuming the RCMP relayed accurate information to the press. In August, police raided their clothing store. The store, Duke and Duchess Apparel, reopened shortly afterwards and police released the suspects.
The RCMP reopened the investigation at an unspecified date and investigated the couple with assistance from Calgary police and the United States DEA. Corporal Jesse O’Donaghey said the duo’s packages made it across the United States, Europe, and even Australia. “It was as many as 25 packages that were seized by our investigators and they were allegedly destined for Canadian addresses, as well as international locations through the United States, Europe and Australia. Two unsecured firearms were also seized during the execution of those search warrants along with $68,000 in Bitcoin.”
Calgary police notably arrested a suspect in 2016 for carfentanil distribution. The seizure and interception involved a kilogram of carfentanil and started part of the current carfentanil (and other *anyl) scare or mass hysteria. Fentanyl, disguised as other types of painkillers, existed far before the darknet and internet drug trafficking, but some of the larger busts occurred in 2012 and 2013—roughly the beginning of the darknet drug trafficking wave.
Following the raid of Nelson and Bonthoux’s house, the City of Kelowna placed signs on the house warning individuals to stay away. Nobody should occupy or enter, according to the warnings. The house, along with the clothing shop, was used to prepare packages for distribution.
However, both suspects are free and currently without any charges, according to Canadian media. Nelson and Bonthoux are due for a hearing in December, though. Since the investigation is ongoing, the RCMP may pursue charges at the court appearance. “At this point, we’re in the process of reviewing the evidence we’ve gathered and we will be preparing a report to Crown detailing the full investigation,” Corporal O’Donaghey said.