Florida Man Sentenced for Selling Counterfeit Drugs on the Dark Net
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Inverness, Florida, man was sentenced today to three years in prison for selling hundreds of thousands of counterfeit prescription drug pills through the Internet.
“By selling counterfeit drugs through the Darknet, the defendant recklessly endangered the community and placed his own personal gain over the health and safety of the public,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Working closely with our partners through the Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force, EDVA will continue to investigate, prosecute, and hold accountable those who contribute to the proliferation of illegal pharmaceuticals on dark web marketplaces.”
According to court documents, from at least April 2019 until October 2020, Benjamin Burdick, 55, sold at least 249,700 counterfeit Xanax pills through online hidden marketplaces. From his residence in Florida, Burdick used a pill press to manufacture pills that he stamped with the letters ‘Xanax.’ The pills that Burdick created did not contain just alprazolam, which genuine Xanax contains, but also contained substances such as flualprazolam, etizolam, adinazolam, and microcrystalline cellulose.
“The FBI works every day with our law enforcement partners to stop the sale of illegal drugs on the Dark Web. These drugs are not only illegal but can be extremely dangerous because these drug dealers are not selling the drugs they claim to be. The counterfeit pills that Burdick was selling online could have deadly consequences in our communities across the country,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Bornstein of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division. “The FBI Washington Field Office’s Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force is charged with identifying and investigating the most egregious Dark Web marketplaces, and the vendors operating on the marketplaces who are engaged in the illegal acquisition and distribution of controlled substances, to include fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other opioids.”
“Selling counterfeit prescription drugs in the U.S. marketplace puts consumers’ health at risk,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark S. McCormack of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office. “The FDA remains fully committed to disrupting and dismantling illegal prescription drug distribution networks that place profits ahead of public health and safety.”
“Whenever someone uses the U.S. Mail to send anything that is counterfeit, illegal or potentially dangerous, Postal Inspectors will find them and bring them to justice,” said Daniel A. Adame, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division, U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “Together with our partners at the Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force we continue to investigate those who misuse the mail in furtherance of their criminal activity. We remain committed to keeping the mail safe for our customers and our employees.”
Between June 2019 and August 2020, undercover federal agents purchased multiple packages of counterfeit pills from Burdick. When his home was searched pursuant to a federal search warrant in October 2020, agents recovered 16,000 counterfeit pills, a pill press, and almost $150,000 in cash. Law enforcement also discovered six firearms and miscellaneous ammunition in Burdick’s residence.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Robert E. Bornstein, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division; Daniel A. Adame, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Mark S. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander P. Berrang and Jay V. Prabhu and former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Karolina Klyuchnikova prosecuted the case. Trial Attorney Josh Rothman and Senior Litigation Counsel Linda Marks of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch provided significant assistance on this case.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force, which is composed of FBI agents and task force partners, including special agents and officers of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, DEA, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and detectives from local assisting police agencies. The task force is charged with identifying and investigating the most egregious Dark Web marketplaces, and the vendors operating on the marketplaces who are engaged in the illegal acquisition and distribution of controlled substances, to include fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other opioids.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:21-cr-47.
USAO - Virginia, Eastern