The RCMP arrested a Man on Wednesday who allegedly exported $ 18 million worth of synthetic drugs to the United States. The man had used the dark web, the hidden web, where he presented himself under the name of a Greek goddess of relaxation (Pasitheas), in order to sell huge quantities of fake Xanax tablets as well as opioids like fentanyl.
The suspect, 32-year-old Arden McCann, is now the subject of an extradition request to the United States, where he faces a lengthy prison sentence.
The resident of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, on the South Shore, appeared at the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Johanne St-Gelais. He is charged with drug trafficking and money laundering in the United States. McCann remains in custody, pending the continuation of the judicial process. He is scheduled to return to court in April.
In 2015, Arden McCann was arrested as part of a Laval police investigation that led to the seizure of five pill presses and two million counterfeit pills, mostly Xanax. At the time, McCann’s role seemed peripheral to the Laval case. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and received a 90-day jail sentence and a $2,500 donation to charity. Two of his co-accused in the case were the sons of police officer Ian Davidson, the “SPVM mole” who had tried to sell the secret list of police informants to the Mafia.
According to US court documents obtained by us, the Montarvillois man was active on various dark web sales platforms such as AlphaBay, Dream, Wallstreet, Nightmare and Empire.
The dark web is the clandestine internet, a set of sites accessible through software that protects the identity of users.
On these sales platforms, McCann used different pseudonyms, such as DrXanax, Xanaxlabs, TheMailMan, RCQueen and Pasitheas, named after a Greek goddess, Pasithea (or Pasithée), personifying relaxation, meditation, hallucinations and altered states.
McCann is said to have exported tens of kilograms of fake Xanax tablets, as well as fentanyl and other synthetic opiates. Fentanyl is an opioid 40 times more potent than heroin that has been linked to tens of thousands of fatal overdoses in the United States.
McCann allegedly imported the substances from China, had them processed in Canada, and exported them in significant quantities to accomplices in the United States. The accomplices, who were considered to be relays, would then have mailed them in smaller quantities to American customers. The drugs would always have been paid for in cryptomonic money (Bitcoin).
Failed sled import
Exports to the United States were made through different routes. In January 2016, U.S. customs officers intercepted a 21-year-old man who had just been spotted by motion detectors while walking on a railroad track through a forest on the Vermont-Quebec border near Potton, in the Eastern Townships.
The man, who was on the American side, dressed all in white, as if to camouflage himself in the snow, was pulling a sled with a large bag on it at 1 a.m. in the dark night. His footprints showed that he was coming from the Canadian side. The officers who intercepted him found approximately 82 kilograms (182 pounds) of counterfeit Xanax tablets in his bag. The shipment was worth 1.6 million on the black market. The suspect, Cédrik Bourgault-Morin, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in prison in the United States.
A few months later, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) met with one of McCann’s American accomplices, a relay man who was to become a repentant witness. The man eventually confessed that the load seized from the sled had been sent by McCann. The repentant witness had visited McCann in Montreal two weeks prior to this failed delivery. He allowed American investigators to identify McCann in photographs. Subsequently, McCann warned this accomplice that he would no longer do business with him and that he would find new handlers in Texas.
Betrayed by technology
In July 2017, the US authorities seized and deciphered information from the AlphaBay dark web sales platform and traced the transactions supposedly carried out by McCann under his various pseudonyms.
At the same time, investigators from the RCMP “C” Division Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) placed the suspect under surveillance. A hidden camera monitored his residence, his communications were monitored, and an undercover officer was in daily contact with him, according to what was exposed in court. Last fall, the RCMP searched McCann’s residence and seized electronic devices and three encrypted computer media.
Cross-checking the information found on the AlphaBay platform and the computer media showed that the different aliases under investigation were controlled by the same person. It has at
It also made it possible to retrieve a list of customers and a large number of purchase and payment transactions.
According to analysis conducted by the American police, the pseudonyms McCann allegedly used were linked to more than 10,000 transactions on the various dark web sales platforms between November 2015 and July 2017, for a total of 16,752 bitcoins, the equivalent of 18 million Canadian dollars.
The U.S. authorities investigation revealed that transactions would have continued with the pseudonyms likely used by McCann until just a week ago.
The RCMP is currently conducting a related investigation, which would explain Wednesday’s eight searches on Lite Boulevard in Laval, Montreal and Montérégie.
U.S. authorities say they seized McCann-related cryptocurrency accounts the same day.
Because McCann would be able to flee the country and part of his assets would be outside the traditional banking system, American police asked their Canadian counterparts to arrest him provisionally, before requesting his extradition.