U.S. busts an alleged global online drug market, arrests eight

April 17, 2012

Chicago Tribune on April 16, 2012 released the following:

“Dan Whitcomb | Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Eight men charged with running an elaborate online narcotics market that sold drugs to 3,000 people in the United States and 34 other countries have been arrested following a two-year investigation dubbed “Operation Adam Bomb,” prosecutors said on Monday.

The secret ring known as “The Farmer’s Market” operated through the TOR computer network, which allows users to communicate anonymously, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Monday in Los Angeles.

The online drug market provided order forms and customer service, guaranteeing delivery in exchange for a commission and accepting payment through PayPal, Western Union and other means, the indictment charges.

Authorities said the defendants were accused of running one of the most sophisticated drug marketplaces on the Internet and said the prosecution represented a first of its kind.

“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,” Briane Grey, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration acting special agent in charge, said in a written release.

“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,” Grey said.

Marc Willems, 42, who is accused of creating and running “The Farmer’s Market,” was taken into custody at his home in Lelystad, Netherlands, by Dutch authorities, U.S. Attorneys spokeswoman Gymeka Williams said.

Law enforcement officials in Bogota arrested 42-year-old Michael Evron, a U.S. citizen living in Argentina who allegedly oversaw technical and customer support for the online marketplace, as he was attempting to leave Colombia, Williams said.

Jonathan Colbeck, 51; Brian Colbeck, 47; Ryan Rawls, 31; Jonathan Dugan, 27; George Matzek, 20; and Charles Bigras, 37, were arrested at their respective homes in Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Florida.

All eight defendants were charged with federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges and prosecutors had filed extradition papers to return Willems and Evron back to the United States for trial, Williams said.

Each faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

According to the 66-page indictment, “The Farmer’s Market” allowed independent sources to advertise illegal drugs – including LSD, ecstasy, fentanyl, mescaline ketamine, DMT and high-end marijuana – for sale to the public.

The deals were allegedly handled through the online marketplace, which processed more than 5,200 orders for controlled substances valued at more than $1 million between January 2007 and October 2009, the indictment charges.

The law enforcement operation was called “Adam Bomb” because the original name of the marketplace was Adamflowers, according to the indictment.

According to its website, TOR offers free software and an open network that allows users to defend against “network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy.””

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


15 Arrests in an Alleged International Online Drug Probe

April 16, 2012

Associated Press on April 16, 2012 released the following:

“By ROBERT JABLON

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A sophisticated online drug marketplace that sold everything from marijuana to mescaline to some 3,000 people around the world has been cracked with the arrests of 15 people in several countries, U.S. authorities announced Monday.

An indictment unsealed in federal court in Los Angeles claims eight men ran “The Farmer’s Market,” which allowed suppliers of drugs – including LSD, Ecstasy and ketamine – to anonymously sell their wares online. They hooked up with buyers in 34 countries and accepted various forms of payment, including cash, Western Union and PayPal transactions, the indictment claims.

From 2007 to 2009 alone, the marketplace processed more than 5,000 orders for drugs valued at more than $1 million, federal officials contended. It began operations as far back as March 2006, authorities said.

The market “provided a controlled substances storefront, order forms, online forums, customer service, and payment methods for the different sources of supply” and charged the suppliers a commission based upon the value of the order, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

“For customers, the operators screened all sources of supply and guaranteed delivery of the illegal drugs,” the statement said.

The alleged ringleader, Dutch citizen Marc Willems, 42, was arrested Monday at his home in Lelystad in the Netherlands, officials said.

Michael Evron, 42, a United States citizen living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was taken into custody on Sunday in Bogota, Colombia, authorities said.

The other six men were arrested at their homes. They are identified as Jonathan Colbeck, 51, of Urbana, Iowa; Brian Colbeck, 47, of Coldwater, Mich.; Ryan Rawls, 31, of Alpharetta, Ga.; Jonathan Dugan, 27, of North Babylon, N.Y.; George Matzek, 20, of Secaucus, N.J.; and Charles Bigras, 37, of Melbourne, Fla.

It was not immediately clear whether the men had obtained lawyers.

The 12-count indictment charges all eight men with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and money laundering conspiracy. Some of the men also are charged with distributing LSD and taking part in a continuing criminal enterprise.

All could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of conspiracy.

In addition, seven other people were arrested on suspicion of drug crimes Monday in the Netherlands, Georgia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and authorities seized hallucinogenic mushrooms, hashish, LSD, marijuana and Ecstasy, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The investigation led to those arrests, but authorities still were trying to determine their connections to the online marketplace, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin S. Rosenberg.

The two-year investigation, dubbed “Operation Adam Bomb, “involved law enforcement agents from several U.S. states and several countries, including Colombia, the Netherlands and Scotland, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The case was filed in Los Angeles because some of the customers and an undercover agent who bought drugs through the marketplace are from the area, Rosenberg said.

“Illegal narcotics trafficking now reaches every corner of our world, including our home computers,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in the statement. “But the reach of the law is just as long. … We want to make the Internet a safe and secure marketplace by rooting out and prosecuting those persons who seek to illegally pervert and exploit that market.”

The marketplace “was distributing dangerous and addictive drugs to every corner of the world, and trying to hide their activities through the use of advanced anonymizing online technology,” said Briane M. Grey, acting special agent in charge of the Los Angeles Field Division for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The marketplace allegedly used the Tor network, which spreads website and email communications through a volunteer network of servers around the world in order to mask Internet address information.

Tor originally was developed at a project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to protect government communications. The free software and open network is used to prevent websites from tracking users, getting access to websites blocked by Internet providers, and providing anonymity for online users and online publishers. It is used by “normal people, the military, journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, and many others,” according to the Tor Project website.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.