The DEA arrested 8 named and 7 unnamed people today in what it says is the first TOR-operated drug bust.
“The drug trafficking organization targeted in Operation Adam Bomb was distributing dangerous and addictive drugs to every corner of the world, and trying to hide their activities through the use of advanced anonymizing on-line technology,” said Briane M. Grey, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge. “Today’s action should send a clear message to organizations that are using technology to conduct criminal activity that the DEA and our law enforcement partners will track them down and bring them to justice.”
The 12-count indictment charges that each of the defendants was a member of a conspiracy to distribute a variety of controlled substances worldwide through the use of online marketplaces that allowed independent sources of supply to anonymously advertise illegal drugs for sale to the public. According to the indictment, the operators of the online marketplaces provided a controlled substances storefront, order forms, online forums, customer service, and payment methods for the different sources of supply. For customers, the operators screened all sources of supply and guaranteed delivery of the illegal drugs. The online marketplaces handled all communications between the sources of supply and customers. For these services, the operators charged a commission based upon the value of the order. Customers of the on-line marketplaces have been identified in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia and in approximately 34 other countries. There were thousands of registered users of the online marketplaces. The on-line marketplaces have multiple sources of supply offering various controlled substances, including lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), MDMA (ecstasy), fentanyl, mescaline, ketamine, DMT and high-end marijuana. Between January 2007 and October 2009 alone, defendants Willems and Evron processed approximately 5,256 online orders for controlled substances valued at approximately $1,041,244 via the online controlled substances marketplaces.
As alleged in the indictment, the “Farmers Market”, previously known as “Adamflowers”, operated on the TOR network. According to the indictment, TOR is a circuit of encrypted connections through relays on the TOR network that can be downloaded on home computers. TOR allows websites and electronic mail communications to mask IP address information by spreading communications over a series of computers, or relays, located throughout the world. The online marketplaces have accepted Western Union, Pecunix, PayPal, I-Golder, and cash as payment for illegal drug sales.
The indictment isn’t yet on PACER. But I’m curious to see how they busted these guys–and whether it involves some way to counteract TOR. I’m also interested in the mention of 7 unnamed arrestees; presumably they’ll be the next lucky folks dragged into the government’s informant network.
No wonder Obama defended the war on drugs while he was in Colombia; the DEA was preparing arresting one of these guys–Buenos Aires-based American citizen Michael Evron–in Colombia at the same time Obama was there (though Evron was in Bogota, not Cartagena).
Update: One of the weirdest parts of the indictment (via Wired h/t MD) is the way it uses different time frames to quantify the drugs involved:
January 2007-October 2009: 5,256 orders valued at $1,041,244
May 2008-May 2010: 608 Western Union orders totaling $200, 031
January 2008-August 2011: 29,285 hits and 63 grams of LSD
March-September 2009: 148 grams MDMA
March 2008-June 2010: 1,489 ounces of pot
July 2009: 350 units fentanyl
It’s a veritably Borgesian list of unlike time periods and items. But it may hint at how they found these guys.