The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office is investigating the death of an inmate in a South Carolina jail. On Monday, November 6, detention officers found suspected darknet drug trafficker Theodore Vitaliy Khleborod dead in his cell. Officials pronounced him dead shortly thereafter.
According to federal authorities, Theodore Vitaliy Khleborod and Ana Milena Barrero had distributed opioids on numerous darknet marketplaces. The duo, according to court documents, sold highly-potent opioids under the handle “PeterTheGreat” or “Peter The Great” (PTG). Mainstream news outlets infamously painted PTG as the U-47700 (U4) vendor behind the overdose of a Portland teenager named Aisha Zughbieh-Collins.
Although their case centered on U4, PTG had distributed numerous fentanyl analogs such as acrylfentanyl and 4f-iBF Maleate. Outdated vendor profiles and scattered reviews revealed that the opioid dealer had dealt with a wide array of China-imported fentanyl analogs. Their logs led to the arrest of at least one vendor: Zane61, a former Alphabay fentanyl dealer who purchased various opioids from PTG. In fairness to the U4 reporting, the original indictment only accused the Spartanburg couple with U4 distribution.
The indictment charged Khleborod with one count of possession with intent to distribute U4. The same indictment charged his co-defendant with one count of conspiracy to distribute U4. Barrero, though, had admitted to her role in the PTG conspiracy in an August hearing. She pleaded guilty to one count of U4 distribution. Khleborod had not yet admitted that he had taken part in any PTG conspiracy.
Khleborod’s lawyer, a Greenville criminal defense attorney named Richard Warder, had taken steps to prepare to enter a “not guilty” plea. He filed motions for grand jury transcripts, electronic surveillance footage, and information on informants. Unlike Barrero, Khleborod showed a hesitance to admit to the charges contained within the indictment. Police officers arrested him after he had arrived at the Post Office with sealed packages. They caught Barrero “red handed,” so to speak. The man may have changed course, though; his lawyer had recently told U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs that the case would likely not go trial. If it did go that far, February 2018 would have been the earliest court date.
Following the 28-year-old’s death, the Attorney’s Office issued a brief statement regarding the future of Khleborod’s case. “Instead of preparing for a trial in his case or trying to determine if he will plead guilty or go to trial, all that has ended,” the office said. “So, now that all remains is the sentencing for [Barrero].”
Coroner Rusty Clevenger of the Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office said that the Coroner’s Office had conducted an autopsy on November 9. Although the Coroner’s Office and the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the cause of death, officials have announced that all signs indicated that Khleborod had taken his own life. They had not discovered anything that pointed towards any possible foul play.