Tim Teklinski, 18, died of a drug overdose from a synthetic form of fentanyl purchased through the dark web
VANCOUVER — A 31-year old from Middletown, N.Y., has pleaded guilty to selling synthetic opioids and fentanyl analogues, including one that led to the overdose death of an 18-year old Vancouver man nearly four years ago.
The United States Department of Justice said Chukwuemeka Okparaeke, AKA “Emeka,” sold drugs through a Dark Web site known as AlphaBay under the username Fentmaster.
In November, 2016, 18-year-old Tim N. Teklinski of Vancouver searched for that name online and ultimately purchased three grams of U-47700, a synthetic version of fentanyl, from Okparaeke.
Teklinski died on Nov. 10, and his death was later determined to be an accidental drug overdose.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said Okparaeke “peddled highly addictive, and in one case lethal, opioids over the darknet. He also lied to agents and prosecutors about the whereabouts of more than $7 million in bitcoin proceeds from his illegal sales.”
“This case represents the tragic impact of fentanyl and other illicit narcotics in this country,” added Postal Inspector in Charge Phillip R. Bartlett. “Mr. Okparaeke used the anonymity of the darknet to peddle his narcotics believing he would be shielded from arrest and prosecution. Postal Inspectors want to remind criminals there is no place you can hide when you use the U.S. Mail to facilitate your illegal activity.”
Prosecutors alleged that from at least July 2016 through March 2017, Okparaeke imported kilogram-quantities of fentanyl analogues, including acryl fentanyl and furanyl fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids, including U-47700, from Hong Kong and China into the United States.
Okparaeke – who attended medical school before he began selling synthetic opioids on AlphaBay – used extensive measures to conceal his identity, including software to encrypt his internet traffic and communications sent from his cellphone.
Using alter egos, he boasted online about his exploits as a darknet drug trafficker, offered advice to other drug dealers, and published a short story describing his criminal activities and his strategies for evading law enforcement.
“The anonymity most seek by using the darknet did not shield Okparaeke, who is now facing the consequences of his actions,” said Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh. “One overdose, one life taken, is one too many. To those who try to hide on the darknet while profiting off ruined lives, you will be found, you will be arrested, and you will be prosecuted.”
In November, 2017, Postal Service inspectors seized several packages containing the illegal drugs imported from Hong Kong.
That led to a raid at a property in New Jersey that Okparaeke had been using to distribute the drugs. Agents seized more illegal narcotics, along with mailers used to ship them.
In Sept., 2020, Okparaeke met with USPIS agents and falsely claimed that more than $7 million in bitcoins had been stolen from him. Ultimately, Okparaeke admitted to having the funds, and agreed to turn them over as part of a plea agreement.
Okparaeke pled guilty to one count of distributing U-47700, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of importing 100 grams and more of acryl fentanyl, a controlled substance analogue of fentanyl, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; and one count of making false statements in a matter within the executive branch of the Government of the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
He is due to be sentenced in U.S. District Court on Dec. 17.