Contributed

B.C. man’s dealings in drugs and the dark web brought to light

Operation Darkness Falls results in arrest of prolific dark net Fentanyl vendors, including one from Kelowna.

Robert Kiessling was a currency-trading instructor with Okanagan College’s Continuing Education department, and according to an obituary written shortly after his Jan. 17 death, an “outstanding and caring” father and son.

In recent days, however, he’s become known for a role that’s far darker.

Kiessling, 40, was among several of the most prolific online fentanyl dealers in North America, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice.

He went by the handle DF44 and was, as of the time of his January arrest, considered the third-largest fentanyl vendor in North America, based on sales. He was arrested as part of “Operation Darkness Falls,” a joint effort from law enforcement agencies from Canada and the U.S.A, targeting people and organizations that sell fentanyl and other drugs over the dark net.

A court affidavit that was unsealed in recent weeks indicates that RCMP watched Kiessling Jan. 9, as he left his house in the south Mission area of Kelowna and dropped his wife off at an address across the city.

Kiessling then drove to the Canada Post located inside the Towne Centre Card Shop on Bernard Avenue and was arrested by an RCMP officer as he placed an envelope with a Cleveland address on the counter.

“The items in the envelope were described as promo material with a declared value of $5,” reads the document.

Hand written on the document was the name “Picnictable,” the undercover name by the Postal Inspector during the narcotics investigation.

Two RCMP officers examined the contents of the parcel and allegedly found a “silver Mylar bag” within sheets of folded and taped together printed material. In it, they say, was a white powdery substance consistence with fentanyl or fentanyl analogue, weighing 10.6 grams.

READ MORE: MOTHER CALLS FOR CHANGE AFTER SONS LOST TO OPIOID CRISIS

A subsequent search of his address yielded a safe, bulk currency, a scale, label maker, thumb drives and bags of white powder consistent with fentanyl.

Kiessling’s common-law wife was later interviewed and said that she and her two teenage daughters had no knowledge of what happened behind the closed door of Kiessling’s office. He was released on bond in Calgary and according to a press release from the Department of Justice died by suicide less than a week after his arrest. He was never tried or convicted of the crimes with which he is becoming known for.

Allan Coyle, director of public affairs for Okanagan College, said that Kiessling worked for the school from 2009 to 2014. Coyle declined to say anything more than Kiessling was still under contract when he died.

Others had much more to say about Kiessling and his alleged activities on the dark web.

At a press conference in Cleveland, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was joined by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman and other Justice Department officials who condemned the activities of Kiessling and several others swept up in “Operation Darkness Falls.”

“Today’s announcements are a warning to every trafficker, every crooked doctor or pharmacist, and every drug company, every chairman and foreign national and company that puts greed before the lives and health of the American people: this Justice Department will use civil and criminal penalties alike and we will find you, put you in jail, or make you pay,” said Sessions in a press conference at the time.

U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman added that mechanics of drug dealing has changed, and law enforcement has changed with it,” he said.

“These cases demonstrate that those who think they are hiding behind a cloak of anonymity on the dark net will be uncovered and brought to justice for selling the drugs killing our friends and neighbours.”

The opioid epidemic has affected every part of Canada, certain regions have been impacted more than others.

Statistics Canada reports that there were more than 8,000 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada between January 2016 and March 2018. There were 3,005 apparent opioid-related deaths in 2016 and 3,996 in 2017. Between January and March 2018, there were at least 1,036 apparent opioid-related deaths of which 94 per cent were accidental (unintentional).

READ MORE: New in-depth report sheds light on who in B.C. is dying of drug overdoses

Between January and March 2018, 73 per cent of accidental apparent opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogues, compared to 54 per cent in 2016 and 72 per cent in 2017.

The Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced last month that several arrests charges and guilty pleas as a result.


edit@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

Body of ATV rider recovered from bottom of Terrace trail

BC Coroners Service investigating death of man in his 70s

All Nations, Haisla teams hoop basketball tournament titles

Eighteen teams across two divisions faced off Aug. 8-10

Fashion Fridays: How to dress and feel powerful

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

Bob Lenarduzzi out as Vancouver Whitecaps president

MLS team is at the bottom of the Western Conference standings

B.C. daycare operator denies negligence in death of ‘Baby Mac’

Infant died in early 2017 after biting an electrical cord, according to a lawsuit filed by his mom

BC SPCA reopens animal cruelty investigation at Abbotsford pig farm

Additional alleged footage released from Excelsior Hog Farm sparks new investigation

Donor upset no one noticed B.C. school’s sculpture had been missing for a year

Agassiz’s Fraser River Lodge owner baffled how theft went undetected

Purple fentanyl among items seized in B.C. drug bust

Youth being recruited as drivers for more-established drug dealers, police say

Fatal overdoses in B.C. drop 30% during first half of year

A total of 538 people have died between January and June, BC Coroners Service reports

VIDEO: B.C. RCMP officer’s stunt at motorcycle festival prompts internal investigation

The officer was part of a stunt event at the Squamish Motorcycle Festival

Most Read