FBI Reveals How Brothers Built A $2.8 Million Dark Web Drug Empire With Help From Mom’s Amazon
Two brothers have been charged with running a six-year dark Web drug-dealing operation under the name Pill Cosby, laundering $2.8 million in the process, according to a federal indictment. And Forbes has discovered that investigators were looking at linked cryptocurrency and Amazon accounts held under their mother’s name.
The charges against Khlari and Sasha Sirotkin were unsealed yesterday. Prosecutors revealed a lengthy surveillance operation on the crew, which included three others who’ve also been charged. Together they’re accused of selling fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin, as well as cocaine and crystal meth, using a variety of dark Web markets. They included the Dream Market, Silk Road 3.1 and Wall Street, all notorious markets for illicit goods. On Dream alone the Pill Cosby vendor had made 5,400 deals.
They also allegedly sold narcotics over the encrypted comms app Wickr, which has reportedly become a popular tool for drug dealers as well as entirely legitimate users like journalists and activists who want to keep their messages hidden from law enforcement. Prosecutors claimed that since May this year, there were a minimum of 85 different customers hanging out on the SlangGangCentral Wickr chat.Today In: Innovation
Khlari Sirotkin is accused of leading the money side of the operation, which also used the moniker SlangGang, helping the others run dealer accounts and handling cryptocurrency revenue. His brother was said to have handled the packaging from North Hollywood, California.
As for their mom, according to the government, Khlari Sirotkin purchased various items for “counterfeit drug manufacturing, packaging, distribution and the concealment of cryptocurrency” using an Amazon account registered with his mother’s email address. Prosecutors said the gang manufactured at least 1 million fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills in total.
Forbes also found a search warrant related to the investigation, which showed how the brothers’ mother was of interest to FBI agents. It detailed how investigators subpoenaed virtual currency exchange Coinbase to hand over details on multiple customer accounts linked with the alleged conspirators, and one was tied to Demetra Isbell, the Sirotkin’s mother.
Though the DOJ was able to confirm to Forbes that Khlari and Sasha Kirotkin were brothers, it couldn’t comment on the use of their mothers’ accounts, other than to say she had not been charged.
The crew organized themselves over WhatsApp and iMessage chats that the police obtained (though didn’t say how). In one of their iMessage chats, as revealed in the indictment, Khlari Sirotkin boasted making $20,000 a month and claimed he was going to get a $1.8 million cut from a marijuana crop. “We gonna be so loaded,” he wrote to one of the alleged coconspirators. That Apple account also contained a recipe for fentanyl pill production in the Notes app, investigators claimed.
They allegedly ran operations across Los Angeles and Las Vegas as well as Durango and Denver in Colorado. Customers were based across the U.S., according to the indictment.
But the criminal organization came crashing down following an undercover investigation in which agents spent thousands of dollars on drugs and started following packages and payments, according to court documents unsealed earlier this week.
Counsel for Khlari Sirotkin hadn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
But his brother’s lawyer, Bill Gallagher, said that “at this point these are mere allegations and the government has yet to provide us the documents and information they believe support their claims.”
Gallagher said Sasha Sirotkin was not even a member of the criminal enterprise, adding: “Mr. Sasha Sirotkin is a loving brother and son who deeply cares about his family and always strives to do right by them.”