According to the Portland Police Bureau, 33-year-old Joseph R. Caruso imported fentanyl analogs from China and redistributed them through the darknet. Investigators linked Caruso to a fatal overdose in Wisconsin packaging material found at the scene of the overdose. They later connected him to the Alphabay and Dream vendors “DaddyGreenJeans” and “MrCandy.” Postal inspectors intercepted a suspicious package addressed to Caruso while investigating him. They arrested the man street a controlled delivery in late November.
Although investigators are looking into his role in the death of an unidentified Wisconsin man, prosecutors have only charged Caruso for drug importation and distribution related crimes. One count of the importation of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and one count of and attempted possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Guy Gino wrote that a Chinese Ministry Public Security investigation had previously identified Caruso in a drug bust in China. Chinese authorities had connected Caruso’s phone number to a 50-gram fentanyl purchase in November 2016.
However, it was not until the recent Wisconsin investigation that U.S. authorities looked into the darknet activities of the dealer in Lake Oswego, Oregon. A Portland International Airport postal inspector picked up a yellow envelope labeled “Knitting Needle.” The inspector wrote that the package felt like it had contained powder. Postal inspectors diverted the package to the Portland Police Bureau’s Drug and Vice Division. Investigators carefully examined the package and found that it contained 27 grams of cyclopropyl fentanyl.
“Cyclopropyl fentanyl is a very powerful opioid that is ingested in microgram doses and has been the cause of several recent overdose deaths in Portland, Oregon metropolitan area,” the Homeland Security Investigations agent wrote in the criminal complaint. Authorities swapped the drug for harmless powder and delivered it to Caruso’s apartment on November 21. Investigators watched the suspect pick up the package and carry it inside.
This triggered the search warrant that allowed Portland police to enter the apartment, search it, and arrest Caruso. During the search of Caruso’s apartment, authorities found evidence of six other importations of fentanyl analogs from China. They also discovered Caruso had operated two darknet vendor accounts: “DaddyGreenJeans” and “MrCandy.” Investigators wrote that Caruso had made more than 800 fentanyl analog sales on Agora, Alphabay, and Dream marketplaces.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman opted for pre-trial detention but allowed Caruso’s court-appointed legal counsel to return to court and argue for a conditional release. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin later argued against any possible release due to a recent discovery related to Caruso’s finances; investigators had found that the suspect owned more than $450,000 in Bitcoin.
Later, on November 27, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak ordered Caruso’s but Kerin asked that the release be put on hold.