Federal charges were brought on Tuesday against two Los Angeles men who were reportedly providing methamphetamine and tablets laced with fentanyl to a drug trafficking enterprise that sold drugs to individuals in all 50 states via encrypted communications and the darknet.
Omar Navia, 38, of South Los Angeles, and Adan Ruiz, 27, of Garden Grove, are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess methamphetamine and fentanyl with the purpose to distribute in a two-count indictment. The U.S. Department of Justice states that Ruiz is additionally accused of one count of fentanyl distribution.
After being taken into custody on Thursday, Navia and Ruiz appeared in federal court in Los Angeles the same day. The defendants entered not guilty pleas, and a trial date of December 26 was set. It was decided to lock up Navia and Ruiz without bond.
The men colluded with Michael Ta, 25, of Westminster, and Rajiv Srinivasan, 38, of Houston, who were charged with similar offenses last year and entered guilty pleas this year, according to the indictment. Additionally, Srinivasan admitted to distributing fentanyl that caused death.
Co-conspirators Srinivasan and Ta acknowledged in their plea deals that their drug-trafficking operations resulted in the deaths of three people and that they supplied two more people fentanyl-laced pills, who later overdosed on drugs. The sentence for Srinivasan and Ta is scheduled for the following year before U.S. District Judge David Carter in Santa Ana.
According to the indictment, Srinivasan used the vendor identity “redlightlabs” on many darknet markets to promote and take orders for fake M30 oxycodone pills that included fentanyl and other drugs. It is said that Ruiz and Navia used direct Instagram conversations as well as encrypted messaging apps to discuss medication orders with Srinivasan.
The DOJ claims that Navia and Ruiz then brought controlled substances to Ta so that Ta could send them to clients who had purchased them from Srinivasan.
According to reports, Srinivasan paid Navia and Ruiz in a variety of ways for their services as the organization’s drug suppliers, including with cryptocurrencies, cash sent via cryptocurrency exchanges, and money sent through mobile payment services like Apple Cash, CashApp, PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle.
According to the indictment, co-conspirators Ta and Srinivasan kept a shared electronic record that included information on nearly 1,400 distinct customers and 3,800 drug transactions across all 50 states in the US. According to the indictment, that database showed sales of 123,688 fentanyl pills, over 20 pounds of methamphetamine, and smaller quantities of black tar heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl powder between May 2022 and November 2022.
For the conspiracy accusation included in the indictment, a potential term of life in federal prison is available. According to the DOJ, fentanyl distribution carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.