A drug dealer, who sold Xanax on the Alphabay dark web market, was sentenced to more than ten years in prison for several crimes associated with drug trafficking conspiracy. A judge in an Alabama courtroom handed down the sentence in December 2018.
United States Attorney Jay E. Town of the Northern District of Alabama announced that United States District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala had sentenced Joseph Davis to ten years and six months in federal prison. The United States Attorney announced the sentence alongside Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Associate Special Agent in Charge Brad Byerley and United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez. Both federal agencies worked together in the investigation of the convicted and sentenced drug dealer.
Davis, a 26-year-old from Madison, Alabama, admitted selling alprazolam, cocaine, fentanyl, and methamphetamine on Alphabay and Hansa. Although federal agencies in the United States and law enforcement agencies outside the United States seized both Alphabay and Hansa in 2017, USPIS still gathered enough evidence for a grand jury indictment earlier this year. Investigators lucked out during the investigation and had collected a massive amount of incriminating evidence only months before the Department of Justice’s “Operation Bayonet” that ended Alphabay.
The investigation began in March 2017 after Postal Inspectors with USPIS intercepted a package of counterfeit Xanax pills. Many benzodiazepine users knowingly purchase pressed Xanax pills from specific vendors, knowing that the pills contain a certain amount of alprazolam, the active ingredient in Xanax pills. Some vendors attempt to stealthily sell counterfeit alprazolam pills as real Xanax pills. As long as the pills appear similar and contain a similar amount of active ingredients as their genuine counterparts, the scam works. Some vendors opt for a more lucrative and for more deadly method of Xanax counterfeiting by selling pressed Xanax pills containing primarily fentanyl. Davis, according to USPIS, sold both forms of counterfeit pills.
The first intercepted package of counterfeit Xanax pills contained more than 10,000 individual pills. The intended recipient had ordered the pills to an address in Madison, Alabama. USPIS knew they had stumbled into a large drug trafficking operation. Postal Inspectors monitored that address for incoming packages. Local law enforcement and the DEA monitored the physical owner of the house. Authorities learned that the person who had been living at the house during the investigation had a minimal connection to the drug trafficking operation Davis led. After the Postal Service would drop a package off at the house, a person, later identified as Davis, would swing by the house and pick up the package.
Davis had his own home in Madison that he occasionally used to receive packages. However, for the most part, Davis kept his name and his property away from the drug trafficking organization. Even though the organization’s operations required assistance from various people, it consisted primarily of Davis by himself. Davis also hired someone in Cullman County, Alabama, to receive some of the packages of drugs he had ordered from his suppliers. After USPIS intercepted and seized the package filled with 10,000 counterfeit Xanax pills, Davis changed methods. He stopped placing single orders for a large number of substances. Instead, he ordered smaller packages of drugs in an almost constant stream. The packages contained at most between 600 and 700 pills.
Most of the smaller packages simply contained smaller quantities of the same pills he had previously ordered in much larger quantities. However, during the investigation, USPIS intercepted a package that resembled the other packages but contained something much different. The pills inside the package looked similar to the other counterfeit Xanax pills that Davis had ordered from his supplier. After USPIS sent the pills to a DEA lab for testing, the lab’s tests found a single but crucial difference: the counterfeit Xanax pills contained no alprazolam. Instead, they contained fentanyl.
At this point in the investigation, federal agents had learned that Davis had been selling various illegal substances on both Alphabay and Hansa under the pseudonym, “OlympusXans.” After an Alabama grand jury indicted Davis in early 2018, federal, state, and local authorities raided Davis’ home and arrested the drug dealer. They seized counterfeit Xanax pills, cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl. Davis later pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute all four drugs and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute all four drugs.
On December 20, U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala sentenced Davis to 126 months in federal prison.