Handwriting Analysis Used to Identify Ohio Fentanyl Vendor

Handwriting Analysis Used to Identify Ohio Fentanyl Vendor

In May, federal law enforcement agencies were tasked with making undercover fentanyl purchases from darknet vendors. On May 30, a Homeland Security Agent found a listing leading to the arrest of a couple from Cincinnati, Ohio.

According to the Criminal Complaint, the investigation into the couple’s activities involved a Homeland Security agent and an inspector from the United States Postal Inspection Service. The HSI agent found a listing for “100mg of Fentanyl HCL 98% purity.” The USPIS inspector joined in after the HSI agent specified the address and ordered the package.

When the package arrived, the USPIS inspector examined the package’s details. The package bore a return address from an individual named A.P. Schweitzer who apparently lived in Newport, Kentucky. The inspector ran a sequence of numbers from the package and found that four more packages with the same name and return address had recently been shipped from a Post Office in Norwood, Ohio.

The packages were delivered to four different addresses throughout the United States. And the Post Office in Norwood was only 15-minutes from Newport, Kentucky. The name, unlike the return address, was not real. Through undisclosed methods, the inspector identified one of the suspects: James Halpin. The Complaint did not reveal the steps taken during the identification process. All we know was that the inspector conducted a series of interviews that led to Halpin.

The Northern District of Ohio Prosecutor’s Office wrote, regarding the USPIS package identification:

Investigators determined the markings on these packages were identical to at least 40 shipments mailed from post offices in the Cincinnati area. It was also determined that Halpin and Bosworth lived at an address that routinely received parcels mailed from abroad and that he regularly mails out packages to addresses all over the country, according to the affidavit.

On June 6, while inspecting packages at the Norwood Post Office, the postal inspector found an inbound package that was addressed to “Dustin Briggs.” The name, one that law enforcement knew to be fake, was linked to the address that James Halpin shared with Grace Bosworth. Bosworth was an established business owner with profiles in several local papers. Officers obtained a warrant for the mail after a police dog hit on the package.

Inside the package, the inspector found orange bags of carfentanil and fentanyl. They then compared handwriting on outgoing packages and found that it matched the handwriting on Bosworth’s divorce filing. Shortly afterwards, the Post Office asked Halpin to come pick up the package. Authorities said that the Halpin picked up the package despite being addressed to a fictitious name. Law enforcement may have left out some details, though, just as they did elsewhere in the investigation.

Officers arrested Halpin when he came to pick up the package. After searching his person, they found fentanyl inside a snuff can. Inside the can, the fentanyl was stuffed inside orange plastic bags. The bags matched those from the intercepted package. He willingly told police that he shipped the packages but made sure that officers knew Bosworth packaged them. He explained nearly the entire operation and painted Bosworth as the mastermind.

Later that day, law enforcement found and arrested Bosworth. She too had a snuff can filled with fentanyl in orange plastic bags. Halpin had previously explained that Bosworth fed him fentanyl from the snuff can—for his pain. She too needed fentanyl. Officers raided her address and found shipping material, scales, fentanyl bags, and other items that indicated the duo sold drugs.

Both suspects were charged for drug smuggling, the illegal importation of a controlled substance, and conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

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