LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury has indicted two men who allegedly supplied fentanyl-laced pills and methamphetamine for a drug trafficking organization that used the darknet and encrypted messaging applications to sell narcotics to thousands of customers in all 50 states across the country, the Justice Department announced today.
The two-count indictment returned October 25 charges Omar Navia, 38, of South Los Angeles, and Adan Ruiz, 27, of Garden Grove, with one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine. Ruiz is also charged with one count of distribution of fentanyl.
Navia and Ruiz were arrested on November 2 and were arraigned that same day in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Both defendants pleaded not guilty, and a December 26 trial date was scheduled for them. Navia and Ruiz were ordered jailed without bond.
According to the indictment, Navia and Ruiz conspired with Rajiv Srinivasan, 38, of Houston, and Michael Ta, 25, of Westminster, who were indicted last year by a federal grand jury and pleaded guilty this year to similar charges. Srinivasan also pleaded guilty to distribution of fentanyl resulting in death. In their plea agreements, co-conspirators Srinivasan and Ta admitted that their drug trafficking activities caused the death of three individuals and that they sold fentanyl-laced pills to two others who died of drug overdoses soon thereafter. Srinivasan and Ta are awaiting sentencing next year before United States District Judge David O. Carter in Santa Ana.
As alleged in the indictment, co-conspirator Srinivasan advertised and accepted orders for counterfeit M30 oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and other narcotics through the vendor account “redlightlabs” on multiple darknet marketplaces. Navia and Ruiz allegedly communicated with co-conspirator Srinivasan regarding drug orders, including through encrypted messaging applications, such as “Session” and “Signal,” as well as direct Instagram messages. Navia and Ruiz then delivered controlled substances to Ta for mailing to customers who had ordered those drugs from Srinivasan, according to the indictment.
Navia and Ruiz allegedly were paid by Srinivasan for their roles as drug suppliers for the organization, including through cryptocurrency, currency which had been routed through cryptocurrency exchanges, and mobile payment applications including Apple Cash, CashApp, PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle.
The indictment alleges that co-conspirators Srinivasan and Ta maintained a shared electronic document that detailed approximately 3,800 drug transactions to approximately 1,400 unique customers in all 50 states across the country. That database documented sales between May 2022 and November 2022 totaling approximately 123,688 fentanyl pills, approximately 20 pounds of methamphetamine, and smaller amounts of fentanyl powder, black tar heroin and cocaine, according to the indictment.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The statutory maximum sentence for the conspiracy charge alleged in the indictment is life in federal prison. The statutory maximum sentence for distribution of fentanyl is 20 years in federal prison.
The FBI is investigating this matter. The investigation in this matter was conducted under the auspices of the FBI-led Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement Team (JCODE), which targets darknet vendors by using sophisticated, high-tech techniques to identify drug traffickers who wrongly believe the dark web allows them to engage in criminal conduct with anonymity. Since its inception in 2018, JCODE investigations have resulted in the arrest of more than 300 darknet drug traffickers, as well as the seizure of more than $42 million in drug-tainted proceeds, over 800 kilograms of narcotics, and approximately 145 firearms.
Assistant United States Attorney Gregg E. Marmaro of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section is prosecuting this case.