In October 2017, law enforcement in Maryland arrested a young man who had purchased more than 10,000 fentanyl pills from a vendor on a darkweb marketplace. This month, nearly one year after the arrest, the drug dealer pleaded guilty to possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute.
On October 11, 2017, officers from state and federal law enforcement agencies raided 24-year-old Robert Simpson’s home in Gambrills, Maryland. United States Attorney Robert K. Hur, in a recent press release, credited Homeland Security Investigations in Baltimore and the United States Postal Inspection Service with the investigation that led to the raid at Simpson’s house. During the raid itself, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents were assisted by officers with the Anne Arundel County Police Department. Although more details have recently surfaced and shed light on parts of a case with very few public details, the entire investigation consisted of undisclosed information.
Maryland officials made an announcement after Simpson’s arrest that revealed the government had charged a suspected drug dealer with a handful of narcotics distribution crimes. The announcement lacked the kind of details usually found in criminal complaints, though. And, given that a judge sealed Simpson’s court documents after the October arrest, the lack of announced information had more impact than in other similar cases (or cases with expected similarities based on the information already known in the USA v. Simpson case).
According to United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur, Simpson was raided for suspected drug trafficking. The inclusion of Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Postal Inspection Service indicates that the investigation likely stemmed from a package seizure or the arrest of the darkweb fentanyl vendor who had been selling fentanyl pills to Simpson. In the scenario involving an arrested darkweb vendor, the vendor would have to have been keeping logs of their customers. As evidenced by many recent darkweb cases, many vendors have started keeping logs by default.
During the raid at Simpson’s house, investigators discovered more than 6,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills (aka fentanyl pills). The prosecution announced in court that the pills seized had a total weight of 369 grams. Simpson had also hidden nearly $10,000 in cash inside a hidden compartment in a desk. Simpson talked to law enforcement during the raid and admitted that he had purchased more than 10,000 fentanyl pills. This information was mirrored by statements made by Simpson during his plea hearing; he admitted buying 10,000 fentanyl pills with the intention of reselling them on the street. He said he had purchased the pills at one dollar per pill and flipped them for up to $10 per pill. According to the plea agreement, Simpson sold between 400 grams and 1.2 kilograms of fentanyl.
“Drug traffickers are on notice that dealing in fentanyl increases their odds of federal prosecution. We’re also targeting drug dealers who use guns and increase the risk of gun violence in Maryland, as well as, those who buy fentanyl on the darkweb and re-sell this poison to our citizens,” United States Attorney Hur said.
The United States Attorney made the announcement alongside officials who represented the agencies that participated in the investigation. The Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Baltimore, Cardell T. Morant was in attendance. The Washington Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service sent Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina. And the Police Chief of the Anne Arundel County Police, Tim Altomare, also made an announcement about keeping Maryland free of drug dealers and the drugs sold by said drug dealers. The announcement specifically targeted fentanyl and fentanyl dealers.
According to the United States Attorney, United States District Judge George L. Russell, III scheduled Simpson’s sentencing hearing for March 2, 2019.