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Two SoCal Men Charged with Using Darknet to Sell Meth and Fentanyl

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.

1:41 PM PST on November 7, 2023

photo: Colin Davis/Unsplash

Two Los Angeles men who allegedly supplied fentanyl-laced pills and methamphetamine for a drug trafficking organization that used the darknet and encrypted messaging to sell narcotics to people in all 50 states are facing federal charges, officials announced today.   

The two-count indictment 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, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.   

Navia and Ruiz were arrested Thursday and arraigned that same day in Los Angeles federal court. Both defendants pleaded not guilty, and a Dec. 26 trial date was scheduled. Navia and Ruiz were ordered jailed without bond.   

According to the indictment, the men conspired with Rajiv Srinivasan, 38, of Houston, and Michael Ta, 25, of Westminster, who were indicted last year 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 U.S. District Judge David Carter in Santa Ana.   

As alleged in the indictment, 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 Srinivasan regarding drug orders, including through encrypted messaging applications and 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 DOJ.

Navia and Ruiz allegedly were paid by Srinivasan for their roles as drug suppliers for the organization, including through cryptocurrency, currency 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 roughly 3,800 drug transactions to about 1,400 unique customers in all 50 states across the country. That database documented sales between May 2022 and November 2022 totaling 123,688 fentanyl pills, nearly 20 pounds of methamphetamine, and smaller amounts of fentanyl powder, black tar heroin and cocaine, according to the indictment.   

The possible maximum sentence for the conspiracy charge alleged in the indictment is life in federal prison. The prison sentence for distribution of fentanyl is up to 20 years, the DOJ said.   

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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