GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Two people are behind bars accused of selling a drug that was the center of a federal drug investigation.
Wednesday night, federal agents raided two homes in both Greenville and Greer looking for the drug U-47700 or ‘Pink’.
Theodore Vitaliy Khleborod, 28, and Ana Milena Barrero, 24, have been arrested on federal charges of:
- Possession with the intent to distribute and distribution of U-47700, a Schedule I controlled substance
- Conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute U-47700.
- Using the U.S. Mail to facilitate a drug trafficking crime.
The death of a teenage girl in Portland in February led investigators to Greenville.
“It’s killing a lot of people which is very sad right now,” said Michael McLain, the director of outpatient services at the Phoenix Center.
Testimony in court revealed investigators in Portland, Oregon found an 18-year-old dead in her apartment from an apparent drug overdoes.
Investigators say they found a baggie of U – 47700, also known as “pink”.
They found a parcel with a Greenville, South Carolina address, according to testimony.
They followed the trail and found out the victim had a ‘commercial relationship’ with Klehborod.
Agents said they had around the clock surveillance on the apartment at the South Ridge Apartments in Greenville and searched a home in Greer.
They say they also found 9 kg, or roughly 20 pounds, of the drug, $30,000 in cash, and roughly 85 parcels of the drug meant to be mailed out to buyers.
Investigators arrested Barrero outside her apartment. They say she had 20 to 30 parcels on her at the time.
McLain says ‘Pink’ is “a synthetic opioid, drug, and it was developed in the 70s as a potential replacement for morphine.” He says it was scrapped quickly because it was deemed ineffective.
He says now the drug is extremely accessible online.
“It’s a replacement drug for heroin or prescription pain medication, and it’s starting to become a problem,” McLain said.
However, he says it hasn’t become a big issue in the Upstate yet.
“We have not seen a lot of treatment admissions for pink, but it could be that this drug is just hitting our county or our state, and we could be on the cusp of a more greater problem with it,” McLain said.
He says dealers usually get the drug from China “where chemists will develop it, and even change the chemical compounds which do make it hard to drug test for it as well as identify what substance it is.”
McLain also says they’re seeing more overdoses.
“Pink is so strong, much stronger than heroine or prescription pain meds,” McLain said.
He says he hopes the case creates more empathy for addicts. He says many times people get addicted to drugs like ‘Pink’ after becoming addicted to pain medication first.
Khleborod and Barrero could also be facing a murder charge and face life in prison, according to a US attorney.
The two are currently at the Spartanburg County Detention Center and will be back in federal court on Monday.
The possession with intent to distribute charge, as well as the conspiracy charge both come with a maximum of 20 years in prison. The use of the US Postal Service charge comes with up to four years in prison.