Dealer Allegedly Pressed Xanax in Rented Beach Homes
The court documents for a darknet Xanax and Oxycodone vendor remain sealed, but a recent pre-trial bond hearing testimony shed some light on a drug trafficking organization with roots in South Carolina and Georgia. The bond hearing resulted in a decision unfavorable to the alleged drug dealer: U.S. Magistrate Judge Paige Gossett opted to keep the defendant in custody until his next court appearance.
U.S. Attorney Jim May argued that the man had access to bitcoin wallets of unknown value and fake identities and could easily flee the country or state in an attempt to avoid facing a potential life sentence. The defendant, according to thestate.com, is currently sitting at Lexington County jail with two co-conspirators. (At the time of this article, I could not find the defendants listed in the inmate directory.)
According to Richland County Sheriffâs deputy William Cobia, Eric Hughes, 36, ran a counterfeit pill pressing operation from vacation homes on the East Coast in Hilton Head, South Carolina; the Fripp islands, South Carolina; Kiawah, South Carolina; and Tybee Island, Georgia. With assistance from his co-conspirators, Hughes allegedly rented homes, set up his pill presses, and pumped out pills. He sold the pills on the darknet while continuing the process at a different beach house.
He also imported powders from China used in the pill presses. The powders included powdered Alprazolam, powdered Oxycodone, various pill fillers, and pill binders. He had allegedly ordered nine pounds of Alprazolam and Oxycodone at a time.
The Sheriffâs deputy, Cobia, told the judge that the trio âset up their pill press in those homes and turned them into drug laboratories,â âWhen they were done processing, the house would be totally contaminated.â At least six rental homes received letters from the DEA that warned of contamination from the drug laboratories set up by Hughes and his two co-conspirators: Taylor Place, 24, and Willie Rice, 36.
According to Cobia, Hughes âmade hundreds of thousands of pills, if not millions.â Hughes, under the TGB monicker, shipped the pills to customers throughout the United States. The DEA arrested Hughes last August after a car crash that led to pills spilling across the road. Federal agents seized the drugs, the pill presses, 150 bitcoins, and other items connected to the drug trade.
The authorities believe that Hughes has been somewhat cooperative with investigators. However, they think that he has been hiding more bitcoin in wallets investigators have not discovered. Cobia admittedly hid some Bitcoin in internet gambling website wallets. He also gave his family hundreds of thousands of dollars in both cash and cryptocurrency. At the end of the hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paige Gossett denied bail for all three suspected drug dealers. They all face charges of drug distribution and endangering lives through drug distribution.