According to recently unsealed court documents in a New Hampshire court, a local couple had been selling heroin on the Dream darkweb market for at least eight months. Drug Enforcement Administration special agents in Florida launched the investigation in early 2018 and New Hampshire police arrested the suspected darkweb drug drug dealers on August 27, 2018. The couple, a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent wrote in a criminal complaint, had allegedly operated the Dream market account “5thAvenue.”
In early late August, Drug Enforcement Administration special agents and local authorities raided a hotel room where they found two suspected drug dealers and an unknown amount of a product the special agents identified as heroin. The suspects, Brian Knight and Tina Kearns, were the subject of a lengthy investigation into darkweb opioid and opiate dealers conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, local authorities, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Like many of the high profile heroin dealer arrests, Knight and Kearns were arrested on a warrant filed by law enforcement in Florida.
DEA Special Agent Austin Love wrote that the DEA in Florida had been targeting Dream Market vendors that primarily specialized in opioids. In January, the Special Agent wrote, the DEA and other cooperating agencies targeted “5thAvenue,” a vendor on Dream Market known for selling heroin that, according to many customers, was genuine heroin and not a product laced with fentanyl or one of the increasingly common fentanyl analogues.
Some might recognize the Special Agent’s name in connection with other darkweb drug cases that originated in Florida. Special Agent Austin Love brought down a darkweb vendor that attracted international attention: Gal Vallerius aka Oxymonster. The DEA caught Vallerius after a Bitcoin “tip jar” address on the profile of the Dream Market vendor Oxymonster was traced to a LocalBitcoins account under Vallerius’ name. The DEA arrested Vallerius in Georgia after he had arrived in the United States o
n his way to a beard competition in another state. He was extradited to Florida where the prosecution finally offered him a plea agreement that Vallerius signed. Although the DEA did not catch the suspected operators of the 5thAvenue account by tracing Bitcoin transactions to an exchange, they did trace financial records that connected Knight directly to the suspected drug operation.
According to the unsealed court documents, the DEA made an undercover purchase of heroin from 5thAvenue in July 2018. Knight, Special Agent Love wrote, had made a fairly major mistake when he had purchased the postage he used to ship packages of drugs to buyers throughout the United States. Not the kind of mistake the United States Postal Inspection Service accused Chukwuemeka Okparaeke—the alleged operator of the “Fentmaster” vendor account—of making during another investigation (Okparaeke allegedly wore rubber gloves into the Post Office when he purchased bulk shipping labels and picked up empty packages).
Knight, according to Special Agent Love, purchased United States Postal Service Priority Mail shipping labels through the USPS website with a credit card that belonged to Knight. The DEA worked with USPIS Inspectors to track down the location where the package had been dropped off. But the USPIS Inspectors were able to provide the DEA with the key to their Investigation: the cardholders name, current address, and the IP address used to pay for the postage. Around the same time, Merrimack police received a tip from an informant that had heard Knight talking about his online drug business and shipping drugs through the Postal Service.
The DEA learned that the IP address was used by someone with access to the wireless network at a room of a local hotel. Further investigation revealed that Knight and Kearns had been keeping a room at the hotel for months. The DEA, on August 27, raided the hotel room. They arrested both Knight and Kearns, found bags of heroin, and seized other items associated with darkweb drug dealing such as USPS Priority Mail envelopes.
Knight has been extradited to Florida. The court ordered that Kearns remain in pre-trial detention pending a criminal trial.