According to U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John H. Durham, a 47-year-old man from Essex pleaded guilty to buying and selling significant quantities of several drugs on the darknet. Authorities from local police, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration handled the case. And during the investigation, the law enforcement agencies seized several packages headed to and from Peter Ceplenski’s home address. Ceplenski will reappear in court for sentencing in April 2018.
Ceplenski waived his right to an indictment and pleaded guilty based on the statements made by the DEA and USPS. U.S. Postal Inspection Service Boston Division Inspector in Charge Shelly A. Binkowski and special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, Michael J. Ferguson joined Durham in announcing the news, due to their continued involvement in the case. In May 2017, authorities intercepted a package of drugs with a note to the customer. The note pointed investigators to a darknet buyer named “WhoLuvsIt.” On September 6, 2017, postal workers with the USPIS seized a package of roughly 1,000 alprazolam pills that someone had shipped to Ceplenski.
On the following day, USPS delivered the package. Agents arrested the 47-year-old at his home not long afterwards. During a search of Ceplenski’s house, DEA agents found a package of 500 pills Ceplenski thought contained fentanyl, along with another package of roughly 1,000 alprazolam pills. Court documents revealed that Ceplenski’s associates had shipped Ceplenski worthless or misrepresented products. For instance, Ceplenski told the court that he had mailed a bag of fentanyl powder to someone he knew with a pill press and the ability to press the fentanyl powder into fake oxycodone pills. The pills he spoke of were the same pills the DEA found in his house. And they contained no active substances.
The investigators connected Ceplenski to a Dream Market vendor under the name “playgroundROX.” “If all goes well. My ridiculously brilliant new partner (alias JohnDoe1) produced our first small batch of Fent presses to wet your appetite of things to come,” the dealer’s Dream Market profile reads.
During the investigation, authorities seized additional packages that proved Ceplenski had issues finding trustworthy contacts. In the first example, USPIS Inspectors seized a package that contained an unknown number of pressed amphetamine pills. Presumably Adderall replicas. Ceplenski admitted that he had ordered pills containing amphetamine. After a lab test, however, authorities found that the pills had contained methamphetamine. Ceplenski also admitted ordering a package of 61 oxycodone pills from a supplier in Pakistan. U.S. authorities had intercepted that package as well. Instead of containing any oxycodone, the pills contained doses of heroin.
He pleaded guilty to no heroin charges though. Instead, Ceplenski pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine, oxycodone, and alprazolam. The Xanax pills were real, of course. He also agreed he would forfeit more than $40,000 that he had earned from selling drugs on the darknet. The same applied to several cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices.
The United States Attorney announced that a scheduling hearing had been set for April 4 in front of U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant. Until then, Ceplenski is free on bail.