“Black Hand” Darknet Forum Seized by French Authorities
French Customs brought down a darknet forum called the “Black Hand,” the Minister of Public Accounts announced in a press release. The forum functioned as a drug market and a fraud market, former users of the forum have revealed. The announcement focused primarily on the market’s fake identification section that allowed fraudsters to buy and sell fake IDs for a wide variety of illegal activities.
The National Directorate of Intelligence and Customs Investigations (DNRED), prior to the announcement, raided homes in several cities in France. The raids lasted two days and involved 40 DNRED agents. The raids resulted in the arrest of four suspects in connection with the forum. One of the suspects allegedly ran the forum. Two suspects allegedly worked for the first suspect in some capacity. And the fourth suspect allegedly sold their wares on the forum.
During the arrest of the suspected forum owner, the DNRED agents seized the forum’s servers and accessed the databases before the administrator managed to shut them down or encrypt her devices. More arrests, the announcement explained, were likely to come.
“OxyMonster” Pleads Guilty to Drug and Money Laundering Charges
OxyMonster, a vendor with a name familiar to even the mainstream media, pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy drug distribution. Although we had learned Gal Vallerius had changed his mind about going to trial, the plea deal still came as a surprise. Vallerius, for months, had planned to go to trial over his case. The evidence that would prevent the jurors from reaching a guilty verdict was scarce and Vallerius kept failing to get it removed from the evidence the prosecution could bring before the court.
Vallerius’ plea agreement prevented the almost inherent life sentence he would have received had he been found guilty by a jury. He will still spend a significant amount of time in a US prison. But it will not be a life sentence. This, for the most part, was the reason the Frenchman had planned to fight the case.
German Judge Sentenced a Hansa Vendor to Two Years
Judge Franziska Scheffel at Ludwigsburg District Court sentenced a 23-year-old to two years in prison on a suspended sentence. At an earlier hearing, the man had been found guilty of commercially trading illegal narcotics and possessing illegal substances. He had been selling cocaine on Hansa market since May 2016.
German authorities caught the vendor during one of the first waves of arrests after Dutch police had taken control of Hansa. And after they had shut the market down, of course. Prior to the takedown, the Dortmund Criminal Police had collected packages of drugs the vendor had shipped. So when the nationwide crackdown began, the 23-year-old was amongst the first few vendors to go down.
35 Alleged Darknet Vendors Caught in Federal Investigation
According to a Department of Justice press release, a year long investigation led to the arrest of 35 darknet vendors. All 35, they explained, were caught within four weeks of the announcement. At this time, this author has only identified 18 of the suspects. And four of those 18 had no mention of the darknet in their court documents. Only Bitcoin.
The laundering of bitcoin, though, ultimately led to the arrest of many of the vendors. In October 2016, court documents explained, Homeland Security Investigations arrested a bitcoin money launderer who advertised his services on the darknet. That money launderer would take Bitcoin from a vendor and then ship the vendor cash through USPS. After his arrest, he allowed undercover federal agents to operate his accounts on Alphabay and Hansa.
The pseudonyms of some old the vendors caught by police:
- TheSource, BonnienClyde, BnC, BCPHARMA, and Money TS;
- canna_bars and TheFastPlug;
- Ross4less and SawGrass.
Vendors kept laundering their money through the money launderer. And the feds collected a whole new set of addresses. Many of those addresses belonged to a suspected vendor or one of his associates (who were included in the “35” figure in the announcement).
Michigan Man Accidentally Sent His Friend Fentanyl Instead of DMT
Jay Rickert, in 2015, helped his friend order DMT from an online vendor. Rickert had experience ordering psychedelics from different vendors online. He had purchased DMT and 5-MeO-DMT. He swore by the vendor’s Ibogaine. And, in one of his final orders, Rickert ordered fentanyl hydrochloride. Unfortunately, he had ordered the drug for a friend who had planned to use DMT for the first time. His friend, inexperienced with everything but marijuana, had no idea the DMT package she received had actually contained fentanyl.
Rickert head no idea why his friend had overdosed. He explained to the police that he had known his friend had planned to trip. He said he had helped her prepare (over Skype) herself for the experience. He made sure she had not used anything that Syrian Rue, a plant that contains alkaloids essential to the vaporized DMT experience, interacted with in a harmful or fatal manner.
When the police asked him questions, Rickert genuinely had no explanation for his friend’s fentanyl overdose. And the authorities never told him they knew his friend had overdosed on fentanyl. Months passed. Then, out of the blue, the family of his friend received a package in the mail that contained a free sample of fentanyl from the same vendor who had mailed her the first batch of fentanyl. The package contained information that connected Rickert to the first package.
He admitted willfully causing the distribution of a controlled substance in a Michigan court.
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3.7.18 Darknet and Cybercrime Roundup