James Nelson, 36, and Cassie Bonthoux, 30, both face drug related charges after being arrested for establishing one of the most sophisticated drug organizations on the dark web. According to reports, the couple was involved in the exportation and the importation of drugs using the dark web as a medium. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) took the drug organization down during the operation of the “Project E-Neophile” involving drug agencies across the globe. The Kelowna RCMP street enforcement unit led the operation of “Project E-Neophile” in September 2016 to investigate drugs in the organization.
Coming to the discovery of their illicit drug distribution was quite difficult considering the fact that they were devoted to their street clothing store on Pandosy Street called Duck and Duchess Apparel. Authorities raided the store and consulted investigators to investigate their dealings after the couple became suspected of trafficking illegal drugs to North America by mail. Their house in the black mountain area was also raided, and signs were posted on the door warning people not to occupy or enter the facility. The raid led to the discovery of fentanyl and carfentanil drugs used in their operation on the dark web.
Authorities seized 120 grams of fentanyl and carfentanil, and two guns from the raid. A sum of $68,000 in cash, suspected to be proceeds from their illegal trade was confiscated. In addition, a large number of unknown substances were seized. Details of their customers have been shared with the Drug Enforcement Agency, and it is expected that authorities will go after them, as well. Corporal Jesse O’Donaghey confirmed to reporters that a total of 25 packages were seized from the operation. The address on the packages indicated that they shipped drugs to Europe, North America, and Australia.
A report stated that an interview between their China distributor and one of the online media websites caught the attention of authorities. On the website, the Chinese distributor disclosed how they had successfully evaded customs with deceptive packaging of drugs and added pictures to back his statements. One of the pictures contained the apparel store and address of Nelson and Bonthoux. Authorities started investigating the case until the suspects suddenly stopped the drug trade, forcing the authorities to give up on the case since there was no information to proceed. On July 2017, the duo resumed the drug trade by setting up new stores on the dark web marketplaces.
Using the dark web, they were able to take orders and sell drugs directly from their homes and their store. Sgt., Alex Lynch of the Kelowna RCMP street enforcement unit said to reporters that this drug enterprise is one of the most sophisticated enterprises to date. According to him, the discovery of this enterprise also remains one of the most significant carfentanil and fentanyl exportation arrests in Canada and North America. The couple has contributed to a number of drug overdose deaths as well. Regardless of how important this operation has been in the fight against overdose death, the RCMP still expects to put more illegal dealers in jail.
In December of last year, the duo appeared before the court room. During the hearing, the RCMP applied for permission to continue to hold their seized vehicles, computers, and mobile phones to be able to continue with the investigation. Nelson objected the request, claiming that he still paid monthly charges on the BMW and the Jeep despite the fact that he has had no access to them. Justice Cathie Heinrichs, however, approved the application for the RCMP to continue holding the vehicles due to how complex the case is.
Recently, the RCMP arrested four individuals suspected of running illegal drug business on darknet marketplaces. The authorities have arrested many people connected to drug operations. RCMP has said to reporters that they will stay committed to identifying, disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking networks in the country. Canada has been identified as one of the leading countries with many drug vendors on the various darknet marketplaces. The efforts to fight against this have led to the joining of forces with other agencies to launch newer operations. It is expected that Nelson and Bonthoux will be used as scapegoats for other traffickers to back out.