Metro-East News

Woman known as ‘drug llama’ accused of using dark web to deal fentanyl in Madison County


A 31-year-old San Diego, California, woman was charged Tuesday with shipping over 50,000 fentanyl pills across the country and into Southern Illinois for almost two years.

Melissa Scanlan, who was known on the dark web as “The Drug Llama,” was indicted in federal court on charges of attempting to distribute fentanyl pills in Madison County, a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois stated.

Prosecutors also say Scanlan was part of an international money laundering conspiracy.

Fentanyl is a highly addictive and potentially lethal opioid painkiller. According to the news release, Scanlan faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years if convicted.

Scanlan is accused of using the “dark web,” a part of the internet that is unreachable by traditional search engines and web browsers, to operate an illegal drug distribution business, the news release stated. Users on the dark web can only access it through special software that conceals their true IP addresses, giving them virtual anonymity and the ability to engage in criminal activity on dark web marketplaces that offer illegal goods and services for sale.

Prosecutors say she used the dark web marketplace from October 2016 to August 2018. She was arrested on Sept. 6 in California.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan D. Stump said Tuesday that Scanlan’s initial court appearance has not been scheduled yet.

Police and first responders call James Jordan, peer recovery specialist for Chestnut Health Systems, after they respond to drug-related calls to help those battling addiction in St. Clair and Madison counties.

Hana Muslic: 618-239-2626, @h_muslic
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