A father and son from Staten Island were facing charges Wednesday for allegedly running a drug operation on the “dark web.”
For the better part of a year and five months, Michael and Philip Luciano sold fentanyl and oxycodone on a website called AlphaBay, using the United States Post Office to deliver the goods to online buyers, according to the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors said the pair ran their illegal business from February 2016 through July 2017, when Homeland Security Investigation agents executed a search warrant at their home. The warrant was obtained after undercover HSI agents bought fentanyl from their account on AlphaBay, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.
As HSI searched the home, Michael Luciano admitted that he and his son had been buying and selling the drugs on AlphaBay under the username Zane61, according to a criminal complaint.
Phillip Luciano was responsible for setting up their account, buying Bitcoins and handling the technological end of the operation, the complaint said. Meanwhile, his father would take the packages filled with oxycodone and/or fentanyl to the post office and mail them using a fake return address, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors said the Zane61 account would often receive positive feedback on its product, including one submission that said, “Great stealth, fast shipping, legit product. Perfect 10/10.”
The dark web, which can only be accessed using special software and allows users to remain anonymous, is often used by criminals “who think they can hide by trying to conceal their identity and transactions,” Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said Wednesday.
HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said the arrests of the Lucianos show that the dark web is not off limits to authorities.
“Fentanyl and other deadly opioids continue to plague far too many American communities because the unscrupulous dealers believe their surreptitious online activities escape the reach of law enforcement,” Melendez said. “The arrests of these two defendants prove that notion false.”
A cellphone and iPad taken from the Lucianos’ home revealed a wealth of evidence of drug dealing, the complaint said, including texts between the father and son about the transactions and phots of the drugs.
Michael Luciano, 58, and Philip Luciano, 29, were charged with one count each of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute fentanyl and oxycodone, according to the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office. The fentanyl charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, while the oxycodone charge has 20-year maximum sentence.