On April 27, U.S. District Judge Paul Byron sentenced Jeremy Achey, 43, to life in prison. Achey sold fentanyl analogues on Alphabay and other darknet markets under the name ‘EtiKing’. A federal jury previously convicted Achey of conspiracy to distribute (fentanyl analogues) and distribution of controlled substance analogues. A 2017 investigation led to the arrest of Achey following the fatal overdose of a 24-year-old in Orlando, Florida.
“The sentence delivered today illustrates the dangers of illicit drugs mixed with fentanyl,” said Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA, Miami Field Division. “Let me be clear to all those who feel safe hiding behind the dark web to dispense lethal drugs, you will eventually pay a high price for your actions.”
Although the DEA Special Agent mentioned the dangers of drugs mixed with fentanyl, Achey knowingly sold fentanyl analogs and advertised the drugs as fentanyl analogs. As the username he used on Alphabay indicated, though, Achey also sold Etizolam. He sold other drugs not mentioned in the courtroom such as LSD, DMT, several ‘RC’ opioids, and a similar array of ‘RC’ dissiasotives. Many of the drugs, at the time, were legal to own and import—the Drug Enforcement Administration had not yet cracked down on many of them. Some states, on the other hand, had already implemented their own emergency schedule that included U-47700, U-77891, and similar opioids.
Although the drugs may have been legal to own and legal to sell for research purposes, they were not legal to sell for human consumption. All the talk of “RCs” aka “research chemicals” helped federal investigators track Achey down. In one section of the Criminal Complaint filed DEA Agent Mark Bruso, Bruso explained how federal investigators made undercover purchases from EtiKing and matched the return address to the address Achey used for his “drug purity testing company.” Some, especially former readers of the now-banned RCsources subreddit, may remember that a user by the name “Jeremysdemo” offered drug purity testing services through a company he had attempted to establish: USDTO.
Postal Inspectors found that the labels used on the EtiKing packages came from a certain service online that allowed customers to buy USPS postage with Bitcoin. The service asks for the user to provide an email where the service automatically sends the postage, once purchased. Federal authorities then obtained every email address associated with the USDTO mailing address. They leveraged those emails into evidence directly connecting Achey to EtiKing by hitting Coinbase with a Grand Jury Subpoena. The subpoena requested information from any accounts connected to the email addresses provided by the postage service.
They found a match. One of the email addresses matched an account used to purchase postage with the return address owned by Achey. The Coinbase account also had Achey’s real name, home address, and additional information required by KYC and AML regulations in the United States. They also matched transactions from Achey’s Coinbase account to a wallet owned by Achey. Law enforcement arrested the man not long after collecting the information from Coinbase.
On January 25, 2018, a federal jury found the man guilty of both the conspiracy and distribution charges. Achey is one of very few darknet vendors serving a life sentence for selling analogues.