Fatal opioid overdoses are on the rise
Federal agents have arrested a Rancho Cordova nurse in what they describe as a scheme to run an online pharmacy that sold more than 20,000 opioid prescription pills to customers nationwide using dark web internet accounts.
Carrie Alaine Markis, 46, was arrested Thursday on charges of conspiracy and distribution of fentanyl and was being held without bail in the Sacramento County Main Jail. She made a brief court appearance Friday afternoon in federal court and was ordered to return Monday for further proceedings.
Markis, who is identified in court papers as holding a master’s degree in nursing science and health care leadership from UC Davis, is accused of using three dark web sites to sell thousands of pills using a marketplace called Farmacy41.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento has led efforts nationwide to crack down on dark web sites that purport to offer untraceable sales of drugs, illegal weapons, poisons and explosives, and court papers unsealed Friday said Markis’ arrest stems from the July 2017 takedown of the AlphaBay marketplace, the largest illegal sales site busted to date.
An affidavit filed by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent says data seized from AlphaBay led investigators last September to Markis, who is described as the operator of the Farmacy41.
State records show list a Carrie Markis as a registered nurse whose license was issued in 1996 and expires in August 2020. She is listed as currently “inactive” and has no record of disciplinary actions.
Court papers say Markis told customers in private online messages that “she sourced her narcotics from ‘individuals who supplement their income through diversion,’ meaning people who sell the prescription drugs a doctor has authorized for them.”
The affidavit, filed with a criminal complaint against Markis, says computer records show Farmacy41 was active on the Pandora marketplace from December 2013 through August 2014 and sold 2,577 hydrocone pills, 2,069 oxycodone pills, 311 morphine pills and other prescription drugs, including 32 fentanyl patches.
The pharmacy made 393 sales on that marketplace, court records say, collecting 206 Bitcoin, or about $122,000 at the time, the documents say. Trading for Bitcoin on Friday would place that amount’s value around $730,000.
Markis allegedly sent private messages to customers explaining that Farmacy41’s name stemmed from the fact that she was 41 at the time, and that her “cover biz” was selling Nutrivite vitamin products, court papers say.
Farmacy41 operated on the AlphaBay market from November 2015 through April 2016, selling nearly 3,000 pills and 64 fentanyl patches worth about $74,235, court papers say. The pharmacy also operated on the now defunct Silk Road marketplace, where it sold nearly 13,000 pills and other drugs worth more than $232,000, court papers say.
“User reviews of Farmacy41 are overwhelmingly positive,” the affidavit states. “The majority of the users’ ratings are five out of five stars.”