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Operation Adam Bomb: Arrest of Creators, Operators of Online Secret Narcotics Marketplace
April 16 (Los Angeles) - Federal, state, and international law enforcement authorities have arrested eight people who all face federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges stemming from their creation and operation of a “secret” on-line narcotics market place – known as the “The Farmer's Market” – which sold a variety of controlled substances to approximately 3,000 customers in 34 countries and 50 states.
“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.”
This morning, law enforcement authorities in Lelystad, Netherlands arrested lead defendant, Marc Willems, at his home. Yesterday, law enforcement officials in Bogota, Colombia, arrested the second defendant, Michael Evron, a United States citizen who lives in Argentina, as he was attempting to leave Colombia. The remaining defendants, Jonathan Colbeck, Brian Colbeck, Ryan Rawls, Jonathan Dugan, George Matzek, and Charles Bigras were arrested at their respective homes in Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, and Florida.
The 66-page indictment, unsealed today, was the result of “Operation Adam Bomb,” a two-year investigation led by agents of the DEA Los Angeles Field Division, with significant assistance by the Netherlands Regional Police Force Flevoland, prosecutors from the International Legal Assistance Center North East Netherlands, United States Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the DEA’s country office in Hague, and the United States Postal Service. The arrests of the defendants took place due to the cooperation and assistance of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, the Colombian Central Directorate of the Judicial Police and Intelligence, Migracion Colombia, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and Federal/State/Local authorities in New York, Iowa, Georgia, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey.
“Illegal narcotics trafficking now reaches every corner of our world, including our home computers,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr., whose office is handling the prosecution of the case. “But the reach of the law is just as long, and the Department of Justice will work with its partners, both nationally and internationally, to bring narcotics traffickers to justice, wherever they may hide. Working together, 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 12-count indictment charges that each of the defendants was a member of a conspiracy to distribute a variety of controlled substances world-wide through the use of on-line 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 on-line marketplaces provided a controlled substances storefront, order forms, on-line 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 on-line 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 state and approximately 34 other countries.
The on-line marketplaces have multiple sources of supply offering various controlled substances, including 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 on-line orders for controlled substances valued at approximately $1,041,244 via the on-line 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 completely mask IP address information by spreading communications over a series of computers, or relays, located throughout the world. The on-line marketplaces have accepted Western Union, Pecunix, PayPal, I-Golder, and cash as payment for illegal drug sales.
According to investigators, this drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) attempted to operate online in secrecy, utilizing the TOR network, IP anonymizers, and covert currency transactions; but investigators were able to infiltrate the DTO and its technology during the course of the investigation.
Those arrested were:
Each of the defendants is charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life, and money laundering conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. Defendants Willems, Evron, Jonathan Colbeck, Brian Colbeck, and Rawls are also charged with the distribution of LSD, which carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life. Finally, defendants Willems and Evron are charged with participating in a continuing criminal enterprise, which carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life and a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence.
In addition to those named in the indictment, authorities arrested seven other people this morning (two in Netherlands, one in Atlanta, two in New Hampshire, one in Pennsylvania, and one in New Jersey). During the course of the arrests made in this case, federal agents and local law enforcement officers also seized substances identified as hashish, LSD and MDMA, as well as an indoor psychotropic mushroom grow, and three indoor marijuana grows.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.