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Ana Milena Barrero, a darknet fentanyl dealer, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, according to United States Attorney Beth Drake. Barrero sold various opioids on Alphabay under the username “PeterTheGreat” until her arrest in early 2017.
According to information found in the criminal complaint and indictment filed after Barrero’s arrest, Barrero and her boyfriend, Theodore Khleborod, had distributed a number of “research chemical” opioids on Alphabay and other darknet markets for an unknown period of time. They sold to drug buyers on Alphabay and sold to other darknet vendors via the marketplace and direct deals. Unfortunately for other darknet drug vendors (and some buyers), Barrero and Khleborod kept physically recording logs of their sales. This included sales to other vendors who later caught charges after an investigation based on the logs kept by “PeterTheGreat.”
Following the duo’s arrest, Barrero pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute U-47700, an opioid known for its then-legal status and value when compared to pharmaceutical opioids or opiates. Barrero’s alleged partner, Khleborod, may have opted against signing any plea agreement offered by the prosecution. At the time, PeterTheGreat’s U-47700 had caused the fatal overdose of a teenager in Oregon. Darknet vendors with products responsible for fatal overdoses rarely receive any grace from the government. In November 2017, jailhouse staff discovered that Khleborod had taken his own life overnight.
Not long after Khleborod’s death, investigators connected PeterTheGreat to one more fatal overdose on the United States. In the courtroom, the authorities mentioned yet another overdose. The overdose was not a fatal one; they said the drug user had developed a lifelong impairment from the overdose.
The investigation into PeterTheGreat began after Aisha Zughbieh-Collins, a teenager from Oregon, had overdosed on U4 with USPS packaging in her home. Reddit users had publicly reported that PeterTheGreat’s packages bore a South Carolina return address. Armed with a package that likely shared the South Carolina return address, federal drug task forces focused their search in South Carolina.
A brief investigation led to the discovery that Barrero and Khleborod had been taking large batches of packages to a post office in Greenville, South Carolina. The police intercepted dozens of packages and matched the contents of packages known to have come from PeterTheGreat. Law enforcement then arrested Khleborod as he dropped off packages at the post office and then raided his girlfriend at their shared Greenville apartment. The apartment became a massive resource for drug investigators; they found hundreds of USPS mailers that had already been prepared; they found jars and jars of various opioids; notepads that had transaction information stored within them; and the Alphabay account itself (that the police had used even after the arrests).
Roughly one year after the arrest, a judge at a Federal Court in Greenville sentenced Barrero to 15 years in federal prison. For getting caught with 43 pounds of synthetic opioids and connected to two fatal overdoses, Barrero left the courtroom with a much better sentence than other dealers with strikingly similar cases. For instance, “EtiKing” aka Jeremy Achey, just caught a life sentence for distributing the same opioids on Alphabay.