Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cross-Country Drug Investigation Leads to Two Arrests, Significant Seizure of Synthetic Opioids (Photo)

CROSS-COUNTRY DRUG INVESTIGATION LEADS TO TWO ARRESTS, SIGNIFICANT SEIZURE OF SYNTHETIC OPIOIDS (PHOTO)


News Release from Portland Police Bureau
Posted on FlashAlert: May 3rd, 2017 3:00 PM
Downloadable file: Khleborod_Barrero.jpg
Downloadable file: Peter_the_Great.jpg
On February 16, 2017, Portland Police Bureau Drugs and Vice Division (DVD) officers responded to the scene of an apparent fatal drug overdose. The victim, 18-year-old Aisha Zughbieh-Collins, was found deceased in her Southeast Portland home. Investigators located evidence that indicated Zughbieh-Collins had overdosed on U-47700, a synthetic opioid that is more potent than heroin and presently the cause of many overdose deaths in the United States. Further investigation of the scene and the computer devices owned by Zughbieh-Collins found that she had purchased the U-47700 through a Dark Net site that supplies illegal narcotics through the US Mail. A vendor on the Dark Net using the screen name of "Peter the Great" was determined to be the source of the U-47700 used by Zughbieh-Collins.

DVD investigators immediately partnered with the Portland Police-based High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Interdiction Taskforce which includes investigators from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), to conduct a federal Len Bias Act investigation under the supervision of the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, with additional material support from the Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program. Len Bias Act investigations and prosecutions are designed to specifically hold drug sellers accountable for the illegal drugs they supply that lead to an overdose death.

Dark Net sites offer a wide variety of illegal drugs for sale from sources within the United States, as well as numerous international sources, and are believed to provide complete anonymity for buyer and seller.

Through the close cooperation of investigators from DVD, HSI and the USPIS, "Peter the Great" was determined to be operating from Greenville, South Carolina, and further investigation identified Theodore Khleborod and Ana Milena Barrero as the suspects behind the "Peter the Great" Dark Net sales. Concurrent with these investigative efforts, it was discovered that "Peter the Great" drug sales had been provisionally linked to overdose deaths in several other states.

DVD, HSI and USPIS investigators traveled to Greenville, South Carolina, to complete their investigation with the assistance of the local HSI and USPIS offices. While completing work for the execution of search warrants at the residence of Khleborod and Barrero, investigators interdicted dozens of parcels containing suspected drug shipments being mailed by Barrero on April 24 and 25, 2017. On April 26, investigators again interdicted Barrero in the process of mailing additional parcels containing suspected drug shipments, took Barrero into custody, and then executed search warrants at the Greenville residence of Khleborod and Barrero, where Khleborod was taken into custody.

A search of the Greenville residence located a large quantity of drug evidence, as well as extensive evidence linking Khleborod and Barrero to Dark Net drug sales. As a prolific source of illegal narcotics the pair had shipped packages of drugs to thousands of locations across the United States. Investigators were assisted at the residence by the Greenville County Sheriff's Office Hazardous Materials Team and the local HIDTA task force.

The investigation into the activities of Khleborod and Barrero continue, with emphasis being placed on all other fatal overdose cases that may be linked to Khleborod and Barrero and to exploit the criminal evidence derived from the Greenville search warrant. Khleborod and Barrero remain in federal custody in Greenville, South Carolina.

This case represents an excellent example of the close cooperation and coordination that exists between local, state and federal law enforcement in the Portland area that has allowed the Portland Police Bureau to resolve a local fatal overdose case with an arrest, and potentially provide accountability for other overdose cases in several other states. The case has also put an end to the activities of a prolific drug trafficker who has been selling the most lethal drugs across the United States, and demonstrated that buyers and sellers who use the Dark Net to conduct business are not anonymous and well within the reach of law enforcement.

DVD, in cooperation with our other law enforcement partners, routinely conducts extensive source of supply investigations that are not limited to this jurisdiction, so that we may have the greatest possible impact on the disruption of drug trafficking organizations that operate in Portland. The Portland Police Bureau encourages those with information related to organized drug trafficking to contact the Drugs and Vice Division online at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/30740

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