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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

San Fernando Valley man, woman charged with selling fentanyl-laced drugs on dark web

A San Fernando Valley man and woman have been indicted for selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fentanyl-laced pills and cocaine around the nation on dark web marketplaces, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Brian McDonald of Van Nuys, whose aliases included “Malachai Johnson” and “SouthSideOxy,” and Ciara Clutario of Burbank, both 22, were charged in an eight-count indictment filed in Los Angeles federal court on Wednesday, May 17.

From at least April 2021 until May 2023, McDonald and Clutario created vendor profiles on darknet marketplaces such as “White House Market,” “ToRReZ” and “AlphaBay,” prosecutors said in a news release.

McDonald recruited and hired accomplices — including Clutario — to help with packaging and shipping the narcotics, the indictment alleges, and both McDonald and Clutario updated the drug listings and shipping information of the orders placed.

McDonald and Clutario were paid in cryptocurrency that was offloaded into wallets that McDonald controlled; it would be turned into cash stored at Clutario’s and McDonald’s homes, prosecutors said.

In May 2021 – one week after McDonald created a darknet vendor profile to sell drugs – he texted Clutario to tell her that their darknet sales were “flourish[ing],” the indictment states.

A month later, prosecutors said, McDonald texted an accomplice that he had 34 drug orders he had to fill. In text messages to Clutario about the conspiracy’s goals, McDonald stated, “i’m really tryna make like 5 mil,” according to the indictment.

Both defendants were charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and cocaine, five counts of distribution of fentanyl, and one count of distribution of cocaine.

McDonald also is charged with one count of possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. He allegedly possessed two gold-plated handguns — one without a serial number — to protect his drug-trafficking business and the proceeds of the drug sales, according to the release.

McDonald has been in federal custody since his arrest this month. Clutario is expected to make her initial arraignment appearance in the coming week.

In convicted of all charges, McDonald and Clutario would face mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years and 10 years, respectively, and could be sentenced to life in federal prison, prosecutors said.

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