Members of two alleged Los Angeles County crime rings are facing charges of using the Darknet to sell methamphetamine and other drugs nationwide, including shipment of a heroin-filled stuffed animal that led to a fatal overdose in Tennessee, federal prosecutors announced Monday.

In a nine-count indictment returned last week in Los Angeles federal court, five members of the Los Angeles-based “Drugpharmacist” drug-trafficking organization — named for the moniker it used on the Darknet marketplaces Wall Street Market and Dream — have been charged with, among other things, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The Lancaster-based defendants are: Jerrell Eugene Anderson, 28, Christopher Carion Van Holton, 31, Adan Sepulveda, 26, Kenneth Lashawn Hadley, 31, and Jackie Walter Burns, 20.

All five were arrested on a criminal complaint earlier this month and freed on bond. Their arraignments are expected in the coming weeks, federal prosecutors said.

According to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in the case, the defendants allegedly sold controlled substances to Drugpharmacist customers via the Darknet, and distributed them inside stuffed animals through the U.S. Postal Service.

Prosecutors said one shipment of heroin last Aug. 7 resulted in the fatal overdose of a victim in Knoxville, Tennessee. Investigators confirmed the ring was using stash houses in the San Fernando Valley to package drugs for delivery to customers throughout the United States. If convicted on all counts, each defendant could face life in federal prison, prosecutors said.

In a separate case, three alleged members of the Darknet vendor “Aeirla” — Anh Pham, 49, of Hawaiian Gardens, Joseph Michael Gifford, 43, of La Crescenta, and Carlos Miguel Gallardo, 59, of Hawaiian Gardens — have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, prosecutors said.

The group allegedly conducted 2,289 sales of methamphetamine and cocaine as of Nov. 28, according to an affidavit filed in the case. Undercover federal agents conducted 26 purchases of methamphetamine from Aeirla between March 2017 and December 2018, according to the affidavit.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Pham allegedly sold pound quantities of methamphetamine on the Darknet while Gifford and Gallardo packaged them in toys, a beach ball and boxes of Christmas cards and chocolates, and shipped them to customers nationwide, including to a customer in Pittsburgh who in reality was an undercover agent, court papers state.

Pham and Gallardo are in custody while Gifford, who signed a plea agreement Monday, is free on bond. Gifford also faces a narcotics distribution charge in a separate criminal case brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Each defendant could face life in federal prison upon conviction.

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