Cops Arrest Six in Connection With Drug-Overdose Death of HQ Trivia’s Colin Kroll

Colin Kroll Dead Vine Obit
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Six alleged members of a drug-delivery service in New York City were arrested and charged Tuesday with distributing heroin and cocaine. The defendants allegedly operated a service dubbed “Mike’s Candyshop,” which supplied the drugs that resulted in the death of Colin Kroll, the co-founder of the HQ Trivia app, in December 2018, according to authorities.

Kroll was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Dec. 16, 2018, at the age of 34. The New York City’s medical examiner office later determined the cause of death was an accidental drug overdose.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for Southern District of New York said: “As alleged, these defendants operated a covert on-demand delivery service for the distribution of highly addictive and dangerous drugs. Allegedly, even after they realized the potency of the drugs they were distributing and selling, the defendants continued to sell their poison.”

Kroll’s most recent venture was HQ Trivia, where he served as CEO of the company he co-founded with Rus Yusupov. HQ Trivia became a viral hit after launching in the summer of 2017 as a live-streaming game show that doles out real cash to player. Kroll and Yusupov also were two of the founders of six-second video app Vine, along with Dom Hofmann. Twitter acquired Vine in October 2012, prior to its public launch; Twitter shut down Vine about four years later.

According to authorities, the six people charged in the Mike’s Candyshop case are: Christian Baez, 33; Luis Meson, 31; Gregoris Martinez, 34; Kevin Grullon, 25; and Joiffrey Urena, 27 — each residents of New York — and Ariel Tavarez, 38, of East Stroudsburg, Pa. They are each charged with one count of conspiring to distribute heroin and cocaine, which carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.

According to officials, the members of Mike’s Candyshop delivered heroin and cocaine on demand to customers in New York City. Customers placed delivery orders via text message to a centralized phone number (the “Candyshop Number”).

The drug ring stored heroin, cocaine, and cash from drug sales in various stash locations, including in Brooklyn. Law enforcement officials alleged that in order to avoid law enforcement detection, the Mike’s Candyshop operators sold only to customers who had been referred by existing customers, and they also periodically changed the Candyshop Number; used coded language to discuss narcotics; and delivered the drugs directly to customers at locations specified by the buyers.

“This illicit enterprise allegedly allowed people to order heroin and cocaine to their doorstep simply by calling the business phone number with the same convenience as if they were ordering a pizza,” Peter Fitzhugh, the special agent in charge of the New York field office of Homeland Security Investigations, said in a statement.

On or about Dec. 16, 2018, Mike’s Candyshop made a delivery to Kroll, identified as “Victim‑1” in court documents. “At the scene of the overdose death, law enforcement officers recovered empty vials with colored tops, and a glassine next to a powder mixture containing, among other substances, heroin and cocaine, along with Victim-1’s cellphone,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Kroll’s phone contained text messages showing that he had ordered narcotics from the Candyshop Number on numerous occasions, including the day before his death, per the official complaint.