ATHENS COUNTY, Ohio | A Forest City man has been charged in Ohio for allegedly trafficking narcotics through two college students and conducting drug deals via Bitcoin.
Anthony Scott Boeckholt, 42, was charged with felony engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity related to drug activity occurring Jan. 1, 2016, through Jan. 23, 2018.
Boeckholt was arrested Jan. 29 at his residence in Forest City. He is being held in Winnebago County Jail awaiting extradition to Athens County.
The Athens County Prosecutor's Office in Ohio worked with the Fairfield-Hocking-Athens Major Crimes Unit and authorities in Iowa, including the Forest City Police Department. Athens County executed multiple search warrants for suspected Iowa drug dealer.
Boeckholt allegedly sent many large shipments of narcotics and other drugs to two college students in Athens, who then sold the drugs to buyers in Athens County, the prosecutor's office said in a news release.
“Ohio is in the middle of an opiate crisis, and this suspect in Iowa was using college kids to traffic thousands of dollars in narcotics,” Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said in a statement.
The investigation leading to the searches in Iowa began when two college students in Athens were arrested for drug trafficking and questioned with attorneys’ present, according to the release.
During questioning, investigators learned of the students' use of the dark web -- a part of the internet not indexed by search engines and often used to hide illegal activity -- and how they used the cryptocurrency Bitcoin to conduct transactions.
Investigators pursued communications between the college students and Boeckholt, which they said eventually lead to evidence for multiple search warrants and Boeckholt's arrest in Iowa.
“The secretive nature of the dark web and cryptocurrency allows huge drug deals to be made without a trace," Blackburn said. "This means that anything purchased on the dark web may not be what it appears, leading to fentanyl-laced narcotics and other more severe substances."
Blackburn said drugs purchased on the dark web tied to this investigation led at least two Ohio University students to overdoses in 2017.
"The crisis is real and we must remain vigilant to the changing ways of drug dealers," Blackburn said. "Let this be a message that we will go wherever we need to find drug dealers and put them behind bars."
The Forest City Police Department, Iowa State Patrol, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Postal Inspectors, Iowa Department of Transportation, Winnebago County Prosecutor’s Office, U.S. Marshalls, Athens County Sheriff’s Office and the Athens Major Crimes Unit all assisted in the investigation.
More charges are expected against additional individuals in both Ohio and Iowa, as the case remains under investigation.