The ringleader of a major dark web operation which made millions of dollars by dealing in counterfeit Xanax and made a plea deal in Manhattan court on Wednesday.
Chester Anderson, 47, will be sentenced to nine years in prison in June under the deal in which he pleaded guilty to four counts, including being a major trafficker and money launderer.
Anderson was being dragged into the Manhattan Supreme Court in beige prison garb when a supporter blew him a kiss on the gallery. He spoke only to answer Judge Maxwell Wiley’s questions and said he understood the terms of his plea.
Anderson has been in custody since April 2019, when he and two co-conspirators were arrested in New Jersey following a raid that seized the largest batch of illegal pills in state history.
Prosecutors said Anderson and two other men – Jarrette Codd, 44, and Ronald MacCarty, 54 – sold the drugs through “storefronts” on the dark web, a hidden part of the internet doubles as a haven for illegal activities.
The men sold and shipped counterfeit Xanax pills, fentanyl-laced heroin and other substances to buyers in 43 states, who bought the drugs with bitcoin, according to court documents.
The ring laundered its earnings — $2.3 million in cryptocurrency — by using preloaded debit cards and withdrawing more than $1 million in cash from ATMs in Manhattan and New Jersey, officials said.
The scheme began in March 2016, when Anderson, under the alias “sinmed,” set up the dark web storefronts via Dream Market, which operates on a hidden Tor network service.
Codd, a small contractor, and MacCarty, the owner of a cell phone repair shop in New Jersey called The Wireless Spot, helped source the equipment and make the pills.
Anderson and MacCarty formed a shell company, Next Level Research and Development, to purchase more than 2,200 pounds of microcrystalline cellulose, a key ingredient used to make pharmaceutical tablets.
MacCarty then helped the trio purchase a pill press, powder mixer, and “die-cuts” used to print “Xanax” labels on alprazolam pills.
The complex operation was unraveled thanks to a hawk-eyed Manhattan Attorney’s Office operative who spotted suspicious large ATM withdrawals in 2017 and began investigating, the Post previously reported.
During what eventually turned into a massive investigation, undercover Manhattan prosecutors purchased about 10,000 counterfeit Xanax pills along with ketamine and GHB, a rape drug, from the online stores.
Authorities searched the suspects’ homes and vehicles and seized a historic quantity of pills, including 420,000 to 620,000 in counterfeit Xanax – worth about $3 million on the street – and 500 glassesines of fentanyl-spiked heroin and other substances.
“As technology evolves, so does our office, and drug traffickers who believe they can use the dark web to cover up their illegal activities will be caught and brought to justice,” prosecutor Alvin Bragg warned in a statement.
Anderson, of Middlesex, NJ, is scheduled to be sentenced June 22. In addition to the prison sentence, under the terms of the plea bargain, he will be supervised for five years after release.
MacCarty of Jackson pleaded guilty to fifth degree conspiracy and third degree money laundering and was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 3 years behind bars. Codd’s case is still pending.
Additional reporting by Hannah Ferrera
https://nypost.com/2022/03/09/ringleader-of-major-dark-web-drug-operation-strikes-plea-deal-in-nyc/ Ringleader of major dark web drug operation strikes plea deal in NYC