The Baltimore Sun reported that a Maryland man received a 57-month federal prison sentence for selling counterfeit Xanax pills. Starting in 2013, Ryan Farace used the moniker of “Xanaxman” on the online markets where he sold his fake pills. By the time law enforcement arrested him in June 2017, he had sold nearly 1 million counterfeit pills. Farace’s co-conspirator, Robert Swain, is set to be sentenced in January 2019.
Farace pled guilty in October to two of the six charges against him: conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute alprazolam and money laundering. According to his plea agreement, Farace sold pills on several online marketplaces, including Silk Road 2.0, Hansa, and Darknet Heroes League. These three markets are no longer in operation, either having been shut down by law enforcement or by the people running them. From December 2013 to November 2014, Farace shipped around 1,066 orders totaling 420,000 counterfeit Xanax pills. In less than a year selling pills on Hansa, Farace shipped 629 orders totaling approximately 500,000 counterfeit Xanax pills.
In addition to his prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake ordered Farace to forfeit $5,665,000 and 4,000 Bitcoin. Additionally, assets seized during the execution of search warrants on January 16, 2018 included $1.5 million in cash and approximately $2.5 million in computer equipment. In a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) press release announcing Farace’s sentence, U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur stated that: “Federal law enforcement and our international partners are working together to find and prosecute those who use the dark web to sell drugs and launder the proceeds of their drug dealing. The sentence imposed today demonstrates that committing crimes through the dark web does not protect you from prosecution. We will find you and we will prosecute you.”
This investigation was the result of the combined efforts of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, and Howard and Anne Arundel County Police Departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dana J. Brusca and Zachary B. Stendig prosecuted this case.