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Feds Bust $7 Million Dark Web Drug Ring in California

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:58 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:58 PM

Federal prosecutors have filed charges against multiple individuals accused of running drug distribution networks on dark web marketplaces Silk Road and AlphaBay. The group is said to have sold drugs worth over $7 million in bitcoin during their operations.

An unsealed indictment from the Eastern District Court of California revealed charges filed against two for conspiracy to possess and distribute a controlled substance and money laundering. As reported by the Los Angeles Times , federal prosecutors have also filed charges against four other individuals for drug possession and distribution charges. One of the two main defendants is also accused of running a marijuana dispensary to launder money from other sources.

Operations on Silk Road & AlphaBay

Prosecutors allege the group of six to have operated and selling drugs as ‘PureFireMeds’ on the now-defunct darknet market Silk Road. After Silk Road’s demise, the group then operated as ‘HumboldtFarms’ on darknet marketplace AlphaBay from August 2013 to May 2017, prosecutors said. Founded in late 2014, AlphaBay gained prominence after the shuttering of Silk Road before ultimately meeting its own end last month following raids by law enforcement officials in multiple countries around the world.

Further details from the indictment revealed the group had processed over 78,000 orders during their time on Alphabay as a vendor selling drugs in the United States and around the world.

Specifically, the group sold cannabis, ecstasy, LSD, oxycodone, hydrocodone, psilocybin, Xanax and ketamine. Making over $7 million in bitcoin with drugs sold, the group then exchanged their cryptocurrency for cash. The accused are then said to have made cash deposits into a bank account in amounts under $10,000 to circumvent mandated federal reporting requirements. The cash would then be withdrawn the same day in smaller amounts from various bank locations.

If convicted of possessing the drugs, all six defendants face up to 45 years in prison and a $5 million in fines each.

For the charge of distributing controlled substances, the accused face a maximum of 5 years in prison alongside a fine of $500,000. The two primarily accused could face an additional penalty of 20 years in prison each for money-laundering charges.

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