In April, federal law enforcement agencies arrested the drug dealers behind the Alphabay vendor profile “PeterTheGreat.” The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and Homeland Security Investigations led the operation the darknet vendor after a U-47700 (U4) overdose in Portland, Oregon. Now, in mid August, South Carolina courts are preparing to deal with both defendants at their first real hearing.
The case began due to an unforeseen event across the country. An 18-year-old woman died after ingesting a fatal amount of U4. Unbeknownst to PeterTheGreat, at the time, the former customer had left clues that pointed directly towards the U4 vendor.
The taskforce of state and federal police quickly identified PeterTheGreat—the vendor account, that is. Agencies then proceeded with a classic undercover purchase operation. The tactic works. When an agent makes undercover purchases from a darknet market vendor and Postal Inspector grabs the packages as they enter the mail stream, the chances of catching a shipper associated with the vendor are incredibly high. Historically, this method has worked in any given case.
Inspectors usually need a general “shipping from” location. After reviewing the evidence from the overdose scene, assuming federal agents told an accurate story in the court documents, they then reached out to informants or former customers and discovered that PeterTheGreat had frequently shipped from the Greenville, South Carolina area.
Postal workers identified packages matching the address used in the undercover buys and then identified one of the two suspects when they dropped off a set of packages. Police then identified two suspects: a 28-year-old named Theodore Vitaliy Khleborod and a 24-year-old named Ana Milena Barrero.
Federal agencies, along with local police, conducted a raid on the home where the couple lived and simultaneously used as a distribution headquarters. Authorities, as expected, had arrested both suspects. They also seized a number of pieces of evidence that incriminated the duo beyond possession—and especially so for Barrero. Officers caught her in the “process of mailing additional parcels containing suspected drug shipments.” The package contents were later confirmed and many of the packages had already been prepared for shipment, making customer data accessible to law enforcement.
Based on Alphabay login data, we know that police had also accessed PeterTheGreat’s Alphabay account.
A federal grand jury indicted both defendants in May. The indictment alleged that Khleborod had committed one count of possession with intent to distribute U-47700. And the indictment accused Barrero of one count of conspiracy to distribute U-47700 and two counts of misuse of the mail system in furtherance of a felony. On August 17 at 10am, a South Carolina court will hold a hearing for both defendants.