Maryland Man Charged for Selling Counterfeit Xanax on the Darknet

Federal authorities in Maryland have accused a Baltimore County man of selling millions of dollars worth of counterfeit Xanax pills on the darknet. He faces drug distribution charges, money laundering charges, and an assortment of charges for related crimes.

The Baltimore Sun reported that newly unsealed court documents accused Ryan Farace, 34, of operating a lucrative vendor account on an undisclosed darknet market since 2013. The documents did not specify which marketplaces Farace had allegedly used for the operation. In addition to the lack of information about the specific darknet marketplaces, the documents also left out the name or names of Farace’s alleged darknet vendor accounts. Like the court documents in many busts of a similar nature, the majority of the documents have not been made available to the public until after trial.

When asked about the case, Farace’s attorney provided the boilerplate response about the complex nature of a new case. “We’re evaluating all of the evidence,” the lawyer, Warren Brown, said.

According to the indictment, Farace purchased pill presses and alprazolam powder in 2013. Alprazolam is the active ingredient in the benzodiazepine sold under the trade name Xanax. Later, in 2014, Farace posted on Facebook about creating a “top secret web site.” That post was followed by a similarly cryptic post. It read, “can’t reveal any details still looking into legalities but it has got huge potential, and all these things got me really excited.”

“We doin big things here at FARACE INC,” Farace wrote in reference to a 2014 purchase of a 2010 Lincoln Navigator. The government seized both the Navigator and a 2012 GMC Sierra. They are seeking the forfeiture of two homes owned by Farace. In total, according to the court documents, the federal government is seeking almost 30 million dollars in cash, bitcoin, and assets.

At some point in his operation, Farace worked with co-defendant Robert Swain in an effort to launder illicitly earned cryptocurrency. The documents revealed next to nothing about Swain’s specific role in Farace’s operation and indicated that Swain was indicted in a separate case. In connection to Farace, Swain faces a conspiracy to launder money charge.

In 2016, Farace possessed more than 5,000 counterfeit Xanax pills. Authorities did not disclose the answer to the obvious question: how did they know how many pills he possessed roughly one year prior to his arrest. In November 2016, Farace had more than 1,000 fake pills in his possession. And in early 2017, he had less than 500 pills. Officials filed the indictment in February 2018 and unsealed it in late June 2018.

The investigation is ongoing.