In February 2018, an Athens County Grand Jury indicted two suspected darknet drug dealers on drug trafficking, money laundering, and corrupt activity charges. Authorities sought the indictment after arresting two college students for drug trafficking in Athens, Ohio. After their arrests, the college students told the police that they had been selling drugs for a dealer on the darknet who accepted bitcoin payments. The investigators accessed the accounts of the college students and read messages that had been sent to and from one of the recently indicted drug dealers.
Through the messages accessed using the accounts that belonged to the college students, law enforcement identified an alleged drug dealer in Ohio. According to the indictment, 42-year-old Anthony Scott Boeckholt of Forest City, Iowa, shipped numerous packages containing “large amounts” of drugs to the college students in Athens. The college students then sold the drugs, making thousands of dollars in Athens County alone. Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, in a statement to the press, said “Ohio is in the middle of an opiate crisis, and this suspect in Iowa was using college kids to traffic thousands of dollars in narcotics.”
Boeckholt used the darknet to mask his identity from the students, along with other possible activities involving drug trafficking. The Athens County Prosecutor’s Office reached out to the Fairfield-Hocking-Athens Major Crimes Unit and together they worked with law enforcement in Iowa, including the Forest City Police Department. As soon as they had gathered enough evidence, Athens County authorities issued an arrest warrant for Boeckholt. Police in Iowa arrested Boeckholt at his Forest City residence.
The indictment charged Boeckholt with three counts of aggravated drug trafficking, money laundering, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. Authorities said Boeckholt began selling drugs on the darknet in January 2016 and continued selling them until his late January arrest in 2018. The drug distribution, according to evidence uncovered by the investigators, involved several conspirators. The indictment that charged Boeckholt also charged 26-year-old Tyler Strand with one count of money laundering and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Prosecutor Keller J. Blackburn said that Boeckholt, Strand, and others were part of a drug ring responsible for distributing drugs to college students in Athens (and possibly elsewhere). At least two Athens County residents died due to drugs connected to this investigation, according to the prosecutor. Currently, it looks as if the drug trafficking ring operated only between Ohio and Iowa. Boeckholt’s arrest required involvement from more than one dozen agencies, including the Iowa Department of Transportation, the U.S. Postal Inspectors, and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Boeckholt is currently at Winnebago County Jail awaiting extradition to Athens County to face charges. Strand’s whereabouts are unknown. National arrest warrants for the man have been issued. Prosecutor Blackburn expects additional arrests in the case.