Prosecutors credit ‘Darknet’ team in case against Florida fentanyl dealer
A Florida man pleaded guilty to conspiring to sell more than 40 grams of fentanyl as well as distributing carfentanil, methamphetamine and ecstasy in greater Pittsburgh and elsewhere, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Robert M. Gilner of St. Petersburg, Fla. -- who goes by “Gman19635” -- was convicted of four counts of federal drug charges, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said.
Gilner faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine up to $13 million or both.
Brady pointed out that Gilner is the fifth defendant charged in Western Pennsylvania since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in Pittsburgh earlier this year the formation of the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement, or J-CODE, initiative. The J-CODE team targets criminal commerce happening via the so-called “dark web.”
“A lot of criminals think that they’re safe online because they’re anonymous,” Sessions said during a Jan. 29 news conference at the federal courthouse in Pittsburgh. “They’re in for a rude awakening.”
Prosecutors said Gilner plotted with others to distribute fentanyl -- a synthetic opioid painkiller that can be 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine -- as well as carfentanil, an opioid used as an elephant tranquilizer that is 5,000 times more powerful than heroin. He also distributed methamphetamine on March 22, 2017 and distributed carfentanil and ecstasy on March 22, 2017, court records state.
“Through our office’s expertise in opioids and cyber crime, we are aggressively targeting drug trafficking of fentanyl and other opioids on the Darknet,” Brady said in a statement.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Shardul S. Desai prosecuted the case against Gilner with help from the FBI, Postal Inspection Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security.
U.S. Judge Cathy Bissoon scheduled Gilner’s sentencing for Jan. 17.