A four-year-old criminal investigation into individuals believed to comprise the long-standing Opiateconnect darknet market vendor operation has culminated with a criminal complaint filed against its principal operator, alleged to be Carolyn Hernandez-Taylor, of Detroit.
Homeland Security investigators reveal in a recently-filed court documents that they had been gathering evidence connecting Hernandez-Taylor to the vendor operation since 2018, which included video of her moving garbage bags full of prepared orders to Detroit-area postal offices on a regular basis. The timestamps and locations of such videos matched orders placed and received by undercover investigators. The products received by investigators also matched those depicted in Opiateconnect listings.
Other individuals identified in court documents include Lynn-Maire Alvarez-Garcia, named as an “associate” to Hernandez-Taylor, Salvador Rivas, who is described as frequently driving “in tandem” with Hernandez-Taylor when she went to deliver drugs to Alvarez-Garcia, and Victor Hernandez, an independent vendor who had made regular bulk purchases from Hernandez-Taylor. The suspects had all been under detailed surveillance for years.
Screenshot of the Opiateconnect darknet vendor store.
News of the arrest of at least one individual behind Opiateconnect (likely to be Hernandez-Taylor) first broke on the Dread darknet markets forum three days earlier, in a post by forum admin HugBunter. “I’ve received information from a trusted source who has provided verified bust info in the past, that OpiateConnect has been arrested,” wrote the admin in a thread initially titled “OpiateConnect369 Arrested”, in reference to the vendor’s forum username. “He’s currently sitting in federal custody and the news hasn’t broke yet.”
“All buyers make sure to clean house as it appears that his market accounts have been accessed in the past week which is some time after the arrest was made, this also allows us to assume that they have access to his wallets, PGP keys and so on. His 2FA was also disabled at Dread, I’ve now locked out his account and his subdread.” – Dread admin HugBunter, in a forum post dated Aug. 29
Opiateconnect ran an independent vendor store on the dark web and was also active on a number of major markets, going back to 2016 and the Dream marketplace. They also had listings on the former Empire, White House and Dark0de markets, as well as the new AlphaBay, in addition to several other markets. They were extremely active on the Dread, renowned for maintaining consistent communication with customers via a dedicated subdread.
Despite their namesake, Opiateconnect rarely sold opiates and was mostly known for selling “bars,” which they acknowledged did not contain alprazolam (the active drug in Xanax) but rather clonazolam, a highly-potent, lesser-known research chemical that is unscheduled in the US. They also had frequent listings for pure/uncut cocaine and clonazolam powder in bulk quantities.