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  • Writer's pictureRobin Lyons

Kill the Competition

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know how critical it is to have a pharmacy. The small town in this true crime has a population under 4,000. The residents were fortunate to have had two pharmacies.


One of the pharmacies’ owner/pharmacist, a greedy man, crossed over to the dark side, in this case, the dark web. On the dark web, he connected with a prescription medication salesperson. The two men became friends. The pharmacist supplied the friend with prescription medications including opioids to be sold on the dark web - receiving bitcoin as payments. They made a lot of money.


On the dark web, the FBI through Operation DisrupTor, a task force created in 2020 to combat opioid trafficking, had undercover agents watching an opioid distributor when the pharmacist and his friend started doing business with him.


A Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Field Office's Criminal Division associated with this case, said,


“This investigation, conducted by the Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force and our partners, demonstrates the dedication and expertise of law enforcement to disrupt and dismantle violent attacks and illegal drug trafficking.”


The two men devised a get-rich plan. They thought they would increase the amount of prescription drugs the pharmacy could get if they took out the competition. With more pharmaceuticals to sell, they thought they’d make more money. They planned to destroy the local competition—leaving only one pharmacy in the town.


The plan: Break into the competition’s pharmacy, steal their opioids—spread a lie that the person responsible was a husband whose wife was having an affair with the pharmacist. After they had the drugs, they’d firebomb the pharmacy. They even mapped escape routes in case law enforcement arrived quickly.


Worst-case scenario: The pharmacist said he’d never surrender to law enforcement—instead, he’d blast his way out, shooting anyone who tried to stop him, including the rival pharmacist. The contingency plan included one man would take care of the other man’s family and bills if one were to be killed.


Because the FBI agents watched the plan come together online, they apprehended the two before they executed the plan. Both men, rather than go to trial, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use explosives, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and money laundering.


A federal judge sentenced the dark web friend, age 32, to 14 years in prison and the pharmacist, age 41, to over 9 years in prison.



Source: U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. District Court, The News & Observer, The Partnership for SafeMedicines

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