According to court documents, a Pennsylvania mother who is suspected of running a drug trade on the dark web with her family asserted that she wasn’t involved in a drug conspiracy and was instead gathering information for a relevant script.
According to court filings submitted to an Eastern District Virginia court, FBI agents charged a Pennsylvania family with running a “darknet vendor” under the moniker “MonPham” and peddling fake oxycodone and Xanax in April.
Agents claimed that they could link the operation to Tanziludin Bangurah, Hadja Franklin, and Nabyunissa Bangoura’s home in Northeast Pennsylvania. Documents show that the authorities learned that Bangoura’s parents, Bangurah and Franklin, are wed.
An inquiry for comment made over the weekend went unanswered by a representative of the Eastern District of Virginia office of the Justice Department.
“The government made numerous controlled purchases from the defendants, some of which were mailed to EDVA (Eastern District of Virginia), documents filed earlier in October stated.” The defendants acknowledged that they were producing the pills themselves in chat communications with the FBI.
Federal officials got a search warrant for their residence around August 2022. They claimed to have discovered “a home laboratory, including a pill press, vacuum sealer, safety equipment, and a substantial quantity of drugs.” Additionally, according to the agents, there were drug ledgers that looked to provide login information for a number of “MonPham” accounts.
Franklin gave detectives a recorded statement on the day of the search warrant in which she denied having any knowledge of a drug lab or any activity in her house.
Franklin, though, offered an additional justification for what the prosecution referred to in the court filings as her “ever-shifting story” in subsequent statements.
Prosecutors stated in the court records that Franklin “claims that she was not engaged in a drug conspiracy but rather research for a screenplay she is writing about the online drug trade.”
“She says that the lab and accounts were set-up by an individual named John (at various points, she has identified the individual as ‘Red’ or ‘John Whyte,’ while other times she claims not to know his last name) who she contacted only using a burner phone that the FBI did not find during execution of the search warrant but she has since discarded.”
The documents state that Franklin also claimed to have served as a source for the FBI when residing in New York. No evidence of her time spent working with the government agency was discovered by the investigators.
In July, a grand jury indicted the family on one count of conspiring to distribute at least 40 grams of a fentanyl-containing combination. The court date is November 6.