His alias was “owlcity,” and authorities say he used the “dark web” to do his drug deals.
Chrissano S. Leslie appeared in federal court in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday on charges of dealing illegal drugs from China, including deadly synthetic heroin, also known as fentanyl.
Leslie, 26, was arrested by Drug Enforcement Administration agents at his Miramar home Wednesday. He got caught after making a series of transactions over the past year on Alphabay, a cyber marketplace for buyers and sellers seeking anonymity as they sell contraband over the internet. The payment of choice was Bitcoin, the virtual currency.
“Criminals have taken advantage of the dark web to create websites with online marketplaces dedicated to the trafficking of controlled substances and other illicit goods,” DEA agents wrote in an affidavit filed with the complaint for Leslie’s arrest.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
According to the complaint, undercover agents engaged Leslie on the dark web in March to buy 10 grams of “China white heroin,” or fentanyl, a painkiller that is substantially more powerful than traditional heroin. The agents agreed to pay $510 for the shipment and arranged to have it delivered to an undercover mail drop.
Leslie contacted the agents and told them he was sending the parcels from a U.S. post office in Hollywood, according to federal prosecutor Francisco Maderal. Agents did surveillance of Leslie, confiscated the packages at the post office, tested the content for drugs, and later conducted a search of the suspect’s personal computer at his home to build the importation case against him.
Leslie is also accused of using the dark web to import Alpha-PVP, a stimulant known as flakka on the street, as well as MDMA and cocaine.
Last year, the Miami Herald published a series of stories about the pipeline of synthetic drugs imported from China, focusing on the trail of carnage caused by fentanyl in South Florida and other parts of the state. The DEA has issued regular alerts about the synthetic opiate, which is often mistaken by addicts as actual heroin but is much deadlier.