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A Fairfax man was sentenced to 52 months in jail yesterday (Tuesday) for conspiring to distribute drugs through the darknet in a conspiracy that extended to other Fairfax County residents.

Tyler Pham, 39, conspired to distribute peach tablets through the U.S. mail that were advertised as Adderall but actually contained methamphetamine, according to a U.S Department of Justice press release. Six other individuals previously entered guilty pleas in connection with the conspiracy and were sentenced to over 13 years in prison combined.

The co-conspirators lived in other parts of the county, including Springfield and Annandale, as well as in Alexandria.

Pham was sentenced for conspiring to distribute between 15 and 45 kilograms of the pills from about May 2019 through December 2019, according to the press release. Pham used the moniker “addy4cheap” on darknet markets, the Empire Market and Cryptonia.

Law enforcement agents purchased 767 tablets, weighing about 268 grams total, from “addy4cheap” between August 2019 and December 2019.

On Dec. 9, 2019, search warrants were executed at Pham and his co-conspirators’ residences, including the homes of Lien Kim Thi Phan, 37, of Fairfax, and Hon Lam Luk, 35, of Chantilly.

In the home of Phan and Pham, agents found 95 peach tablets, and in Luk’s residence, investigators found over 6,000 peach tablets weighing approximately 2.2 kilograms, all of which resembled those advertised on “addy4cheap” and those received by law enforcement through controlled purchases.

As of Dec. 10, 2019, “addy4cheap” had completed 3,665 sales on the Empire Market and received 2,568 reviews. Based on these reviews, “addy4cheap” had received approximately $482,572.10 in sales for an approximate 44,872 pills sold. As of Nov. 7, 2019, “addy4cheap” had fulfilled 140 transactions on Cryptonia.

Pham’s other co-conspirators were listed as Phan and Duong Nguyen, 29, of Springfield; Son Nguyen, 36, of Annandale; Dat Nguyen, 37 of Alexandria; and Trieu Hoang, 39, of Springfield.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office’s Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force, which includes local and federal agencies and members, conducted the investigation.

“The task force is charged with identifying and investigating the most egregious Dark Web marketplaces, and the vendors operating on the marketplaces who are engaged in the illegal acquisition and distribution of controlled substances, to include fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other opioids,” the release said.

The full release is below.

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Morning Notes

Boats docked at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) Kitten Rescued in Groveton — Fairfax County firefighters from the Woodlawn station were dispatched to the 7000 block of Richmond Highway on Monday (June 27) after bystanders reported a stray kitten that got stuck in the engine compartment of their coworker’s SUV. First responders were able to “extriCATe the kitten without injury or damage to vehicle,” and a coworker of the original caller agreed to adopt the kitten. [FCFRD/Facebook]

(Correction: This article initially said the kitten was adopted by a firefighter, based on the department’s tweet about the incident.)

Vienna Proposes Tighter Regulation of Massage Parlors — “Council member Ray Brill Jr. requested that Town Attorney Steven Briglia provide possible town-code amendments to address the proliferation of massage establishments in Vienna and its surroundings, as well as possible illegal activity at unlicensed businesses.” [Sun Gazette]

Hidden Oaks Nature Center Reopens — “The newly expanded and renovated Hidden Oaks Nature Center reopened to the public on June  25. The nature center, at 7701 Royce St. in Annandale, had been closed for the past two years, first because of the Covid pandemic, then due to construction.” [Annandale Today]

Two Sent to Hospital by I-495 Crash — “Monday, 11:21 AM, units responded to I495 NB after Route 7 for 3 vehicle crash impacting main & express lanes. 1 van overturned. Crews worked efficiently to treat/transport 2 patients to hospital w/minor injuries. All lanes initially shutdown but reopened w/in 20 minutes.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

McLean Bible Church Lawsuit Dismissed — “The year-long legal fight between McLean Bible Church and a faction who accused leaders including David Platt of a ‘theological takeover’ has come to an end. On Friday, a Fairfax, Virginia, court dismissed a lawsuit from a group of current and former members of the Washington DC-area megachurch, who contested a June 2021 elder election for allegedly violating church bylaws.” [Christianity Today]

Reston Elementary School Gets Funds for Garden — “Lake Anne Elementary was recently awarded a $1,200 grant from EcoRise to create a community food garden. ‘It is our goal to produce food we can share with a food bank or members from our school community,’ said Consuelo Bachelet, a second-grade teacher at the school.” [Patch]

Fairfax County Eager to Draw FBI to Springfield — “No matter where it lands, federal officials suggest the FBI headquarters could host at least 7,500 personnel — about 3,500 fewer than what was pitched the last time around. Time, though, has only strengthened Springfield’s hand, [Board Chair Jeff] McKay said.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Board Approves $1M to Create Fund for Startups — “Fairfax Founders Fund will provide early capital to startup companies in Fairfax County.   The fund will target early-stage technology companies with technical assistance grants of up to $50,000 to help them prepare for later stage investments.” [Department of Economic Initiatives]

Reston Electric Vehicle Company Announces New Investors — “Reston, Virginia-based Electrify America…counts German industrial giant Siemens AG among its big backers…Volkswagen has also increased its investment in the company. Siemens is the first outside investor. The new funding totals $450 million and values Electrify America at $2.45 billion, the company said.” [WTOP]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 84 and low of 66. Sunrise at 5:48 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) A man from Lorton has been sentenced to 22 years in prison after he gave a young woman a Xanax pill laced with fentanyl and tried to hide evidence of her death in a storage shed, court documents show.

Julian A. Velasquez, 36, was sentenced yesterday (Tuesday) following a plea deal in federal court. It came after authorities found he provided the woman with the drugs, sold heroin to a man before calling 911, and lied to emergency responders, according to court documents.

Velasquez also admitted to providing narcotics to two people who died from overdoses, one in 2017 and the other in 2018.

The most recent death happened in 2020, when the woman — a friend of Velasquez from Los Angeles, who’s identified in court documents as E.M. — visited him to take drugs in anticipation of her birthday, according to an FBI affidavit. She died due to fentanyl intoxication.

“She’s no longer with her friends and her family and her community,” Fairfax County Police Department Chief Kevin Davis said of the 29-year-old victim.

FBI assistant special agent in charge Timothy Thibault also expressed his condolences to the victims’ families.

Velasquez picked up the woman from Baltimore’s international airport on Aug. 8, 2020, and he reported to 911 that she was unresponsive the evening of Aug. 9.

Before the 911 call, though, investigators found that Velasquez sold heroin to a male Vienna resident on Aug. 9, according to prosecutors.

“On August 9, 2020, Velasquez found E.M. unresponsive but he did not call 911 or seek medical assistance,” prosecutors said. “Velasquez instead called his friend and drug customer, Enoel Comsti, 27, of Vienna, to assist in removing evidence of drug use and drug distribution from the crime scene at Velasquez’s residence.”

Comsti saw the woman lying on the bed and attempted to administer Narcan to reverse the overdose, according to authorities. Velasquez then tried to clean up the residence and remove evidence of drug use, according to a statement of facts that he signed as part of the plea deal.

The pair then tried to reach a storage unit when Comsti’s vehicle broke down with two flat tires, according to authorities. Velasquez continued by foot to the storage unit to hide drug evidence.

After returning home, Velasquez called 911, asked for an ambulance and made false statements to emergency responders, denying that the woman had a drug overdose.

“Velasquez told the dispatcher that he could not tell if [E.M.] was breathing and indicated that it appeared that [she] was biting her tongue,” the FBI said. “Velasquez told the dispatcher that he believed [the victim] may be diabetic and confirmed to dispatch that it was possible [she] was having a diabetic emergency.”

During the news conference, Davis also described a good Samaritan law meant to protect people if they help get medical aid to an individual who overdoses.

In another plea deal, a federal judge sentenced Comsti in February to a year and nine months in prison for “aiding and abetting tampering with evidence.”

Meanwhile, authorities are currently prosecuting multiple cases caused by fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in northern Virginia, federal prosecutor Jessica Aber said, in an effort to address not just low-level street crimes but international drug traffickers.

Aber said there’s a pill epidemic in the country in which pills are being laced with fentanyl. She said if you go to a party and someone gives you a pill, it could have fentanyl in it and kill you.

“If you are buying drugs on the dark web or other unlicensed licenses, you are potentially playing Russian roulette,” Thibault said. “Drug dealers are lacing virtually every drug with deadly fentanyl.”

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