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[tor-talk] Feds shutter online narcotics store that used TOR to hide its tracks
Feds shutter online narcotics store that used TOR to hide its tracks
By Dan Goodin | Published April 16, 2012 4:11 PM
Federal authorities have arrested eight men accused of distributing more than
$1 million worth of LSD, ecstasy, and other narcotics with an online
storefront that used the TOR anonymity service to mask their Internet
"The Farmer's Market," as the online store was called, was like an Amazon for
consumers of controlled substances, according to a 66-page indictment
unsealed on Monday. It offered online forums, Web-based order forms, customer
service, and at least four methods of payment, including PayPal and Western
Union. From January 2007 to October 2009, it processed some 5,256 orders
valued at $1.04 million. The site catered to about 3,000 customers in 35
countries, including the United States.
To elude law enforcement officers, the operators used software provided by
the TOR Project that makes it virtually impossible to track the activities of
users' IP addresses. The alleged conspirators also used IP anonymizers and
covert currency transactions to cover their tracks. The indictment, which
cited e-mails sent among the men dating back to 2006, didn't say how
investigators managed to infiltrate the site or link it to the individuals
accused of running it.
Prosecutors said in a press release that the charges were the result of a
two-year investigation led by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration's
Los Angeles field division. "Operation Adam Bomb, " as the investigation was
dubbed, also involved law enforcement agents from several US states and
several countries, including Colombia, the Netherlands, and Scotland.
Lead defendant Marc Willem was arrested on Monday at his home in Lelystad,
Netherlands, federal prosecutors said in a press release. On Sunday,
authorities arrested Michael Evron, a US citizen who lives in Argentina as he
was attempting to leave Colombia. The remaining defendantsâJonathan Colbeck,
Brian Colbeck, Ryan Rawls, Jonathan Dugan, George Matzek, and Charles
Bigrasâwere arrested at their respective homes in Iowa, Michigan, Georgia,
New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Attempts to reach the men for comment
weren't immediately successful.
The 12-count indictment charges all eight men with conspiracy to distribute
controlled substances and to launder money. Several of them are also charged
with distributing LSD and taking part in a continuing criminal enterprise.
Each faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
The arrests come about a year after Gawker documented the existence of Silk
Road, an online narcotics storefront that was available only to TOR users.
The site sold LSD, Afghani hashish, tar heroin and other controlled
substances and allowed customers to pay using the virtual currency known as
Bitcoin, the article reported. It wasn't immediately clear what the
relationship between Silk Road and Farmer's Market is.
Farmer's Market had thousands of registered users who hailed from every one
of the states of the United States and the District of Columbia, as well as
34 other countries, according to prosecutors. The site relied on multiple
sources of various controlled substances. The suppliers, operators, and
customers communicated primarily through the website's internal private
In addition to the eight arrests, authorities arrested seven other people on
Monday. In the course of the arrests, authorities seized hash, LSD, and MDMA,
in addition to an indoor psychotripic mushroom grow and three indoor
marijuana growing operations. Photograph by images.cdn.fotopedia.com
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