Federal authorities in Los Angeles, C.A., have announced the arrests of eight individuals allegedly involved with running a secret online drug market which was responsible for selling controlled substances in 34 countries and throughout the United States. Defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison for their alleged involvement in running what authorities have called:
“One of the most sophisticated drug marketplaces on the internet.”
Those arrested were certainly not limited to the U.S. as the dismantling of the international drug ring by DEA and international agencies resulted in arrests in multiple continents. According to a statement released by the Department of Justice on Monday, arrests took place in the Netherlands, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, and Colombia.
A recently unsealed indictment details a two-year investigation, dubbed “Operation Adam Bomb,” into the alleged online narcotics marketplace which the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s L.A. Field Division busted with the aid of international agencies. The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to cultivate an international online marketplace which facilitated the sale of illegal drugs by anonymous advertisers.
LSD, fentanyl, ecstasy, mescaline, ketamine, DMT, and even cannabis were all for sale on The Farmer’s Market, according to a 66-page indictment.
The secret drug market, known as The Farmer’s Market on the internet allegedly sold controlled substances to roughly 3,000 customers around the world through the TOR computer network. While TOR offers some level of anonymity to internet users as data is split, routed through the network, and then reassembled at an exit node. To those unaware, the TOR network is home to an array of various underground websites which are only accessible through TOR and otherwise invisible to the rest of the everyday internet users around the world. While the network is intended to keep users anonymous while using the internet, there have been reports of at least one government agency adding their own hardware to the network in order to analyze traffic passing through exit nodes.
42-year-old Marc Willems of Lelystad, Netherlands, was taken into custody by Dutch authorities, according to U.S. Attorneys spokeswoman Gymeka Williams. Willems allegedly created and ran the secret online drug ring.
Other defendants include Ryan Rawls (31), Jonathan Dugan (27), Charles Bigras (37), Brian Colbeck (47), Jonathen Colbeck (51), and George Matzek (20). All eight individuals arrested are being charged with federal drug trafficking and money laundering.
What would you be thinking if you were one of the roughly 3,000 customers who purchased illegal drugs from the secret online drug market?