Two Dutch Dark Web drug dealers arrested

Two Dutch Dark Web drug dealers arrested for running a large-scale dark web drug operation – The Hague police arrested two suspects last Thursday morning in an investigation involving close cooperation with German justice. The men are suspected of being involved in large-scale drug trafficking via the dark web.

Two Dutch Dark Web
Seized packages during investigations

The investigating agency in Frankfurt investigated a 38-year-old man from Pijnacker who regularly sent drugs to the post in Germany. The German judicial authorities suspect that in this way the sale and delivery of drugs via Germany to many hundreds of customers worldwide took place on the darkweb.

In May 2019, the Netherlands was asked via a European Investigation Order to cooperate in the investigation. The investigation then led to a 40-year-old man from Voorburg. This man is suspected to be the one who organized the sale on the dark web. The 38-year-old man from Pijnacker would then prepare the drug shipments and take them to Germany and Belgium to post to customers all over the world. The offer on the dark web covered almost all conceivable types of drugs: from amphetamine, XTC, cocaine and hashish to ketamine. Large quantities of drugs were found during a search in a shed.

The man from Pijnacker has been arrested in Germany and will be prosecuted there. The man from Voorburg will be prosecuted in the Netherlands. He has been brought before the examining magistrate today, who has determined that he will be detained for 14 days.

The investigation was conducted by the Regional Criminal Investigation Department in collaboration with the International Legal Assistance Center.

The research tackles an important supplier of drugs via the dark web. The men are held responsible for at least 1300 orders. In recent years they have been active in two other forums, which were closed earlier. Yet they found a way to continue their sales anonymously.

The dark web is a part of the internet that cannot be found or accessed just like that. Websites cannot be found via a search engine and the user needs a special program (and often log-in details) to get there. The dark web is widely used for criminal activities, such as selling drugs, weapons or child pornography.


Cryptocurrency Mixer PrivCoin shuts down

Cryptocurrency Mixer PrivCoin is shutting down it’s operations due to new and extensive regulations added to the European Union in January 2020. PrivCoin was one of the most used cryptocurrency mixers and even suggested by Empire Market owners.

Cryptocurrency Mixer PrivCoin
PrivCoin Homepage

Instead of the usual homepage on the PrivCoin website, users will now see Goodbye message posted on the website.

“Goodbye World

While we previously blocked users from countries with over-reaching regulations, new and extensive regulations added to the European Union in January 2020 have made it impossible to reasonably operate Privcoin.io

Privcoin has been not for profit and will donate the remainder of the “profits” made to worthy charities.

We sincerely hope that we have saved several lives by providing privacy services.”

Along with this message, admins and operators of Cryptocurrency Mixer PrivCoin posted a few links to the websites where it’s explained how PrivCoin was used in extortion and kidnapping schemes. One of the possible reasons for shutting down operations of PrivCoin could also be recent news of Grams admin being charged for running cryptocurrency laundering operation.

PrivCoin had large user base and it was suggested by Empire Market as a way to clean your coins.

HugBunter announcement on future plans for Dread Forum

HugBunter, the creator of Dread announced today that two years ago on February 15th, 2018 Dread has been launched. What was once planned to be small dark web discussion forum with 1,000 users, today grow to one of the largest deep web discussion forum and news resource with over 120,000 registered members.

HugBunter
Dread Forum logo

HugBunter, the creator and main administrator announced the creation of Dread on Reddit shortly after Reddit banned several dark web sub-reddits.

Here is the full announcement from HugBunter about Dread anniversary and future plans for this forum:

This is terribly late so I do apologize, but yesterday was Dread's 2nd Birthday anniversary since the launch on February 15th, 2018.

What a wild ride it has been in that period of time and I can't thank you all enough for making it was it is today. There is a lot more planned from here and we hope to continue providing a great community space for a variety of discussion with privacy and anonymity respected.

To recap on a few things:
I initially intended to build Dread as a small security discussion board, extremely niche and expected a capacity of around 1,000 users, which I thought as ambitious. The need for the type of platform, based on the Reddit format became realized when some large communities were blanket banned from Reddit and it felt like there was a lot more to come, oh boy was I right.

We've faced every manner of FUD by many people who would have a lot to gain from Dread's demise and have stuck to the beliefs that were the foundation of the platform, managing it as best I can whilst having tasks to work on surrounding the site every single day since.

The delusional Narco of "Gangsta's Paradise" who set out on a crazy FUD campaign posting spam to Dread daily for a LITERAL year after launch until he took it too far and I had to put an end to his cess pool of a forum.

http://dreadditevelidot.onion/post/952223d5220a6e625fa1

He's been quiet for a while but opened "DarkNetStats" a literal Darknet Fake News site.

The most prolific issue we have faced has definitely been the DoS attacks and whilst seemingly being the only service to actually overcome the attacks outside of mirror rotation has been a fantastic achievement, something we're proud of and which definitely wouldn't be possible without IQ 1000 /u/Paris

Some current stats to see the scale of things too:

User accounts: 121,194

Available posts: 93,285
Removed/Unapproved posts: 35,767

Available comments: 658,119
Removed/Unapproved comments: 45,685

Active Communities: 574
Removed/Banned Communities: 5

Sorry this post has been so late, we have an amazing announcement coming very shortly which I hoped to have ready yesterday so held out on any posts relating to the Birthday, stay tuned for big news!

Thanks guys!

For more information about what is Dread and where to find working links please visit our Dread Forum page

Canadian Dark Web Vendor “AlwaysOvrWeight” Busted

Canadian Dark Web Vendor “AlwaysOvrWeight” busted – Three people are awaiting charges in connection to a year-long RCMP investigation into alleged drug trafficking on the dark web from an operation based in Nanaimo, B.C.

Canadian Dark Web Vendor
Drugs seized during the raid by RCMP

The RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) began its investigation into online drug trafficking using the dark web and bitcoin exchanges in January 2019.

According to RCMP, Project EPateriform targeted a “prolific” dark web vendor known online as “AlwaysOvrWeight,” whose location was later narrowed to Nanaimo “using conventional and non-conventional techniques.”

Investigators gradually gathered evidence supporting allegations that “AlwaysOvrWeight” was facilitating the online sale of GHB, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, psychedelic mushrooms, fentanyl and other drugs to Canadians.

GHB is commonly known as a “date rape” drug or “club drug” that is often reported to be found in drinks spiked at parties or clubs.

RCMP were also able to gather evidence to identify people working behind the same “AlwaysOvrWeight” moniker.

On Feb. 4, RCMP members with both FSOC and the Federal Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement and Response Team executed a search warrant at a home in the 3900-block of Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo.

Inside the home, officers found a GHB processing lab along with evidence of drug packaging and trafficking.

The same day, police also executed a search warrant at a second home in the 6100-block of Kiara Place in Nanaimo, where “evidence of drug trafficking using the dark web” was found, according to RCMP.

Three suspects were arrested, but police say no charges have been laid yet as the investigation remains ongoing.

The RCMP extended thanks to Canada Post for their help and co-operation in advancing the investigation, along with the Nanaimo and Powell River RCMP detachments.

“Our determined investigators used ingenuity and innovative techniques to remove the anonymity of the internet from online drug traffickers,” RCMP Insp. Tim Arseneault said in a statement.

RCMP FSOC Supt. Richard Bergevin said police will “continue to work to enhance public safety for all Canadians in the real and virtual world.”

“This marks the success of a challenging project,” he added.

Grams dark web search engine admin indicted

GRAMS – dark web search engine admin indicted for laundering $311 million in bitcoin for darknet transactions – A Ohio is charged in federal court with running a darknet operation that prosecutors said laundered more than $300 million worth of cryptocurrency often used for illegal transactions in underground marketplaces.

GRAMS
GRAMS – The Google of the Dark Web

Larry Dean Harmon faces several charges detailed in an indictment handed up by a grand jury in Washington, D.C. Federal prosecutors say Harmon, 36, ran a service that allowed customers to send bitcoin and obscure its origin. Such services are known as “mixing” or “tumbling.”

Federal prosecutors say Harmon’s operation, called Helix, partnered with the online underground marketplace AlphaBay to provide money laundering for customers who accessed the marketplace through the darknet, which is not accessible through internet browsers used by most of the public.

AlphaBay was known as a place where customers went to buy drugs, fraudulent ID documents and other illegal items. Federal authorities shut it down in 2017 and said drugs bought on what was then the largest darknet marketplace were tied to overdose deaths.

Helix exchanged at least 354,468 bitcoins, the equivalent of about $311 million at the time of the transactions, the indictment states. In addition to AlphaBay, the service was used in connection with the marketplaces Agora Market, Nucleus and Dream Market.

The grand jury indicted Harmon in December, and his case was unsealed in federal court in Akron on Feb. 6, the same day IRS and FBI agents arrested him and searched his home and office properties in the Akron area. The same day, authorities in Belize searched a vacation property that Harmon leased, according to a court filing by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Riedl and Christopher Brown.

Harmon, who owns the businesses Coin Ninja and Harmon Web Innovations, is charged with conspiracy to launder money instruments, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and money transmission without a license.

Federal prosecutors are seeking millions of dollars in financial penalties and want Harmon to forfeit his house on Yellow Creek Road, as well as additional property in Akron and Aurora, Colorado. Harmon has “massive” cryptocurrency assets, Riedl’s and Browns’ filing says. They cite a spreadsheet agents found that they say lists cryptocurrency and U.S. dollar assets totaling nearly $57 million and wrote that he may have other holdings the government hasn’t yet identified.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen Burke in Akron on Tuesday ordered that Harmon remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sent to Washington, D.C. for prosecution. She wrote in an order that the case against him appears strong, that he faces a long prison sentence if convicted and that he has ties outside the country.

Harmon’s attorney did not immediately return a phone call.

In addition to Helix, Harmon owned a darknet search engine called Grams. His two operations were affiliated and some referred to them as “Grams-Helix,” the indictment says.

Prosecutors said in court records that they found a photograph in Harmon’s email account that showed a laptop with browser tabs open for Helix and an administrator page for Grams. Authorities also recovered evidence during the search of his unit at the Grand Caribe resort in Belize that tied him to Gram and Helix, including external hard drives and tools used with cryptocurrency, Riedl and Brown wrote.

Harmon advertised Helix as a way to hide transactions from law enforcement, writing in August 2014 that “there is no way LE would able to tell which addresses are helix addresses,” according to prosecutors.

Helix partnered with AlphaBay in November 2016. AlphaBay operators recommended that customers use a bitcoin tumbling service and provided a link for Grams-Helix’s website, the indictment states.

An FBI agent transferred 0.16 bitcoin from an AlphaBay bitcoin wallet to Helix on Nov. 8, 2016. Helix exchanged it for an equivalent amount, less a 2.5 percent fee, according to the indictment.

Riedl and Brown wrote in their filing that Harmon was aware of the potential threat of law enforcement. He posted in one comment that he didn’t want any “UC,” or undercover agent, working for him and asked “Can you guys think of any ways I could make him prove he wasn’t a UC?”

Harmon started shutting down Grams and Helix in December 2017, prosecutors say.

The Justice Department said Canadian citizen Alexandre Cazes, known online as “Alpha02” and “Admin,” was AlphaBay’s creator and administrator. He killed himself while in custody in Thailand in July 2017, according to a news release.

Dream Market Female Vendor Sentenced to 13 Years

Dream Market Female Vendor known as “The Drug Llama” is sentenced to 13 years in Federal Prison – The United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois announced today that Melissa Scanlan (a/k/a “The Drug Llama”) has been sentenced to 160 months in federal prison for trafficking fentanyl throughout the United States via the “dark web,” engaging in an international money laundering conspiracy, and distributing fentanyl that results in death.

Dream Market Female Vendor
Melissa Scanlan aka “The Drug Llama”

The crimes for which Scanlan was sentenced are as follows: one count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, five counts of distributing fentanyl, one count of selling counterfeit drugs, one count of misbranding drugs, one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering, and one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death. The 32-year-old San Diego native pleaded guilty to those charges in October 2019. Scanlan’s co-conspirator, Brandon Arias, 34, was previously sentenced to nine years in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy.

Facts disclosed in open court revealed that Scanlan and Arias created an account on “Dream Market,” a dark web1 marketplace where users buy and sell illegal substances and services, and used that account to sell substantial quantities of narcotics while operating under the moniker, “The Drug Llama.” The charged fentanyl distribution conspiracy lasted from October 2016 to August 2018, during which time Scanlan sold approximately 52,000 fentanyl pills throughout the United States.

According to court records, Scanlan and Arias made over $100,000 from their dark web drug trafficking and split the money evenly. Court records also demonstrated Scanlan’s participation in an international money laundering conspiracy with Mexican cartel members, as well as her role in aiding and abetting the distribution of fentanyl pills to a woman identified as A.W., who later died.

U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft assailed the culture of criminality that exists on the dark web.

“Criminals like Melissa Scanlan who recklessly flood our communities with opioids may think they can evade detection in the shadowy corners and back alleys of the internet,” he said. “But they will find no quarter there. Where they go, we will follow. With the collaboration of outstanding investigators at our partner agencies, we will use every tool and method available to find these people and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.” U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft also noted that this prosecution further underscores the critical need for Congress to permanently criminalize fentanyl analogues.

The dark web is an underground computer network that is unreachable by traditional search engines and web browsers, creating a seeming anonymity to users. This false cloak has led to a proliferation of criminal activity on dark web marketplaces, like the one used by Scanlan and Arias.

“Illicit opioid distribution, whether online or through conventional drug distribution methods, and the resulting overdoses and deaths are a continuing national crisis; those who contribute to that crisis through their illegal actions will be brought to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Charles L. Grinstead, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Kansas City Field Office. “We are fully committed to disrupting and dismantling illegal prescription drug distribution networks that misuse the internet at the expense of public health and safety.”

“With accessibility of fentanyl, it is imperative that the Drug Enforcement Administration and its law enforcement partners exploit all distribution avenues utilized by drug traffickers in Scanlan’s case,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge William J. Callahan of the St. Louis Division. “Scanlan distributed poison in our community that resulted in death and she is now being held accountable.”

This case was part of a months-long, coordinated national operation involving the Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Homeland Security, United States Customs and Border Protection, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois. Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek J. Wiseman is the prosecuting attorney on the case.

We already wrote last year about this Dream Market Female Vendor that pleaded guilty for distributing Fentanyl in Illinois. DOJ press release can be found here

Florida Man Arrested for Child Pornography

Florida Man Arrested for possession of child pornography – Deputies arrested a 53-year-old man on Friday for allegedly being in possession of child pornography.

Florida Man Arrested
Source: Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

Deputies say that through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) they received seven separate cyber tips through Google regarding child pornography that was taking place in the 3500 block of Bali Drive in Sarasota.

According to reports, the cyber tips consisted of 91 images of nude young girls posing in a sexually provocative manner.

In all seven of the cyber tips, deputies say that Google provided two phone numbers and an email address that was found to belong to Thomas Cook after an investigation was conducted.

Cook was arrested on Friday and deputies say that in a Post Miranda statement he admitted both telephone numbers and the email associated with all seven cyber tips were his.

Deputies say that he said that he became sexually attracted to children approximately a year ago, but he it was only recently that he started downloading child pornography.

According to deputies, he used one of the phones for internet purposes and downloaded a dark web application to view child pornography.

Deputies say that when being shown images that were from the cyber tips, Cook admitted to not only downloading the images but also to masturbating to the images “a couple of times.”

Deputies say that Cook said that he does know that viewing and downloading the images is wrong and that he needs help.

He was arrested and remains in custody on 40 felony counts of child pornography and one count of failure to appear.

He has a bond set at $200,100 and this case remains under investigation.

Man Charged With Attempting To Buy A Fake Passport

FAKE PASSPORT – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Patrick Sileo, 62, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was arrested and charged by complaint with fraud in connection with identification documents. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Fake passport
Fake passport

Assistant U.S. Attorney Caitlin M. Higgins, who is handling the case, stated that on November 11, 2019, an undercover HSI Special Agent (UCA) was contacted online by the defendant who was utilizing the email address [email protected] Sileo inquired about purchasing a fraudulent passport and stated that he found the UCA’s email address on a website known to law enforcement that advertises the sale of various illegal products, such as fraudulent identity documents, drugs, and counterfeit goods, among other illicit items. The UCA posed as a seller/online vendor of fraudulent documents.        

The defendant told the UCA that he was a U.S. citizen currently located in the United States who had returned from Southeast Asia “some” months ago. He further stated that he had a United States passport that would be expiring in one week and that the Internal Revenue Service had blocked it from being renewed.

The following day, on November 12, 2019, Sileo told the UCA that he would use it to travel to Southeast Asia, and that it would be his primary identity document. He also asked for clarification on the process of purchasing the document. The UCA explained that defendant needed to make the purchase online, then send the UCA biographical information, a facial photograph, and signature to be placed on the fraudulent passport. The UCA would, in turn, create a document utilizing the information.

On November 23, 2019, [email protected] ordered a United Kingdom passport with the UCA, placing $3,585.00 in escrow on the dark web website for the purchase of the document. The defendant provided the UCA with a copy of a facial photograph, as well as fictitious information to be placed on the passport. On December 6, 2020, the defendant advised the UCA where to mail the passport to in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

The defendant was arrested in Nevada and returned to the Western District of New York. Sileo made an appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer and is being held.  

The complaint is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

DOJ press release can be read here

Eric Eoin Marques, ‘Kingpin of child porn’ pleads guilty

Eric Eoin Marques, dubbed “the Kingpin of Child Porn pleads Guilty in Maryland Federal court – A man dubbed “the kingpin of child porn” pleaded guilty Thursday in a Maryland federal court to operating a web server that hosted more than 8.5 million images of child pornography.

Eric Eoin Marques
Maryland Federal Court in Greenbelt

Eric Eoin Marques, 33, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Ireland, copped to one count of conspiracy to advertising child pornography.

Marques faces between 15 years and 30 years in federal prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 11 in Greenbelt.

Prosecutors said they will ask for a sentence ranging between 15 years and 21 years, although U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang can depart from that recommendation.

“This is an egregious case where one individual facilitated the abuse of more than a million new child victims and attempted to keep the abuse hidden on the dark web,” said Robert K. Hur, U.S. Attorney for Maryland.

Marques admitted that between July 2008 and July 2013, he operated an anonymous web hosting service on a network on the “dark web.” The service allowed users to access view and share images of child pornography without disclosing their IP addresses, thus remaining anonymous and untraceable.

Of the 8.5 million images or videos hosted on the server, nearly 2 million involved victims not previously known to law enforcement. Images included the abuse of “prepubescent minors, violent sexual abuse and bestiality,” prosecutors said.

In July 2013, FBI agents in Maryland accessed Marques network and were able to view a child pornography bulletin board with more than 7,700 members and more than 22,000 posts, according to court documents.

An additional 1 million files were downloaded from another website on the same server, prosecutors said.

Marques was arrested in 2013 while living with his father in Dublin. He remained in Irish custody, although authorities in that country did not charge him with a crime.

He fought extradition to the United States for six years, before losing that battle in March 2019. U.S. officials formally charged him with crimes one month after his extradition.

During the extradition proceedings, an FBI agent called Marques “the largest facilitator of child pornography on the planet.”

Dark Web Drug Vendor “Budgetbudsexpress” Pleads Guilty

Dark Web Drug Vendor Budgetbudsexpress Pleads Guilty – Eric Friccero, 29, of Arbuckle, pleaded guilty today to possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

Dark Web Drug Vendor
NCIDE

According to court documents, Fricerro, operating under the name “BudgetBudsExpress,” distributed marijuana to customers throughout the United States through darkweb marketplaces. On Jan. 31, 2019, law enforcement officers searched Friccero’s residence and found marijuana that was offered for sale on the darkweb, along with bitcoin and cash.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy Task Force (NCIDE), composed of agents from Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and IRS Criminal Investigation. The NCIDE Task Force is a federal task force focused on targeting all forms of darkweb and cryptocurrency activity in the Eastern District of California. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Grant B. Rabenn and Paul Hemesath are prosecuting the case.

Friccero is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on Aug. 17. Friccero faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Dark Web Drug Vendor BudgetBudsExpress Pleads Guilty press release by DOJ can be found here