A Connecticut man pleaded guilty to running a drug trafficking operation that distributed large quantities of counterfeit Oxycodone pills through the dark web.
According to court documents, 23-year-old Colby John Kopp and his accomplices sold fentanyl-laced pills through dark web marketplaces from at least April 2020 through February 2021. Kopp sold the pills through vendor accounts registered under the moniker MadHatterPharma on several dark web marketplaces including the now-defunct Empire Market. Kopp also distributed the pills through the encrypted messaging app Wickr under the username “hatmatter.”
According to the criminal complaint, FBI agents investigating dark web marketplaces came across the MadHatterPharma vendor account on Empire Market in August 2020. The vendor account was created on May 4, 2020, and had already fulfilled over 554 orders. MadHatterPharma advertised Oxycodone pills manufactured by pressing a mixture of fentanyl and morphine.
On August 14, 2020, an FBI agent made an undercover purchase of 10 pills from MadHatterPharma on Empire Market for $100. MadHatterPharma gave the agent a bitcoin address and asked him to send the payment to the address. A few days later, the FBI received a USPS Priority Mail envelope at the address given to MadHatterPharma by the undercover agent. The envelope carried paper, multiple envelopes, and 10 blue pills in a silver pouch bag. The pills reportedly tested positive for fentanyl.
Blockchain analysis revealed that the bitcoin address MadHatterPharma gave to the FBI was associated with Coinbase. Information provided by Coinbase showed that the address belonged to Kopp’s Coinbase account. A comparison of the photo Kopp had submitted to Coinbase for KYC and a photo of his driver’s license confirmed that the account belonged to the same person.
After Empire Market stopped its operations in late-August 2020, MadHatterPharma disclosed on Dread that he would be making direct deals on Wickr under the name “hatmatter.”
The undercover agent made multiple purchases from hatmatter until he failed to receive a response from the vendor regarding an order of 100 pills for $910 he had placed on December 8, 2020.
In all the undercover purchases, the funds sent to the vendor’s bitcoin addresses were traced back to Kopp’s Coinbase account. Information from Coinbase revealed that in most cases, Kopp would sell the bitcoin and transfer the funds to his PayPal account. In other cases, Kopp transferred the bitcoin to the Coinbase account of one of his accomplices, Adriana Beatrice Sutton. Sutton would then withdraw the funds from a Coin Cloud ATM within 24 hours of receiving the funds. Photos acquired by the investigators from the ATM confirmed that Sutton made the withdrawals. Between June 22 and December 1, 2020, Kopp transferred bitcoin to Sutton a total of 11 times.
In November 2020, the agents received sales records from a company that sells pill press machines, tablet binders, and parts and accessories. The records revealed that Kopp purchased accessories for a manual pill press machine on two occasions in July 2020. Some of the accessories included die punches for stamping “M” and “30” onto pressed pills.
The investigators also received information from another company that sells pill press machines and tablet binders. The information revealed that between April 2020 and February 2021, Kopp bought at least 11 kilograms of Firmapress, a binding agent for pressing pills.
On January 17, 2023, Kopp pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. He will be sentenced on April 18. He faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison.