"Drug Llama" Allegedly Sold 50,000 Fentanyl Pills On Dark Web

By Kelly Burch 09/20/18

Investigators say the woman who reportedly calls herself “The Drug Llama” also sold Oxys, Percs and amphetamines through a dark web marketplace.

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A California woman known on the dark web as “The Drug Llama” is accused of shipping more than 50,000 fentanyl pills to consumers across the United States since 2016. 

Melissa Scanlan, 31, is facing federal charges in Illinois and is also being investigated for two deaths in San Diego, where she lives, according to The San Diego Union Tribune.

In those cases, investigators allege that she sold fentanyl that led to the deaths of a 10-month-old boy and a 41-year-old woman. The baby died after his father bought fentanyl—allegedly from Scanlan—and left it within reach of the child. The boy was found unresponsive in his parents’ bed.  

These might be two of many deaths allegedly caused by Scanlan’s drugs. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Hobson told a federal judge that Scanlan has trafficked more than 50,000 fentanyl pills, although the indictment against her only covers 400 grams of fentanyl. 

Scanlan was the subject of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) undercover operation in both San Diego and St. Louis. As the scope of the investigation expanded, the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Department of Homeland Security also became involved. 

Investigators say that Scanlan was selling drugs on the dark web marketplace called Dream Market, where she was known as “The Drug Llama.”

In addition to selling fentanyl, she also offered oxycodone, amphetamines, morphine, Percocet, temazepam, flexeril, and an “opiate powder pack,” according to federal documents. Her fentanyl was pressed into blue pills that were disguised as oxycodone. The drugs arrived in leather pouches much like those sold by a company Scanlan owns. 

Federal investigators ordered drugs from the “Llama” in July and were able to track Scanlan using the return address on the packages. The address listed was associated with an old business of Scanlan’s, and the name listed—Samantha Cooper—was later found to be the names of her two dogs. A Paypal account also linked Scanlan processed thousands of drug-related transactions. 

In August, Scanlan was arrested on state drug charges after a search of her home. However, shortly after she was released she traveled to Mexico to arrange the shipment of more fentanyl to her house, and redirected her customers to another dark web marketplace where they could purchase the drugs. 

She was arrested again on September 4 and admitted to buying fentanyl from a Mexican cartel. This time, federal prosecutors are arguing that she is a flight risk and a danger, noting that Scanlan is five months pregnant but continuing to engage in criminal activity. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.