The dark web, they say, may be an interesting place to interact, with things and services not found on regular search engines and browsers. However, it can also be the host of illegal activities, scammers, money laundering, and drugs, not to mention other things that can get people in trouble.
In recent hours, a drug dealer performing his operations in the dark web has pleaded guilty to several charges, such as conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and money laundering, and has been ordered to forfeit $4 million in funds in total, including some in Bitcoin.
The Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, via a press release, showed the piece of news to the world. According to the document, the criminal in question goes by the names “Chemsusa,” “Chems_usa,” “Chemical_usa” and “Jagger109,” but his actual name is Richard Castro.
The man in question, allegedly, has sold several illicit substances over the dark web, including carfentanil, fentanyl, and a fentanyl analogue called phenyl fentanyl. He has offered them in various markets, such as AlphaBay and Dream Market in a span that ranges from November 2015 to March 2019.
Bitcoin (BTC) was among the payment methods accepted by Castro in his illegal sales. He used several different methods to engage in money laundering, ranging from BTC wallets and, oddly, acquiring “100 quadrillion Zimbabwe bank notes.” Per the document from the Attorney’s office, Luis Fernandez is a known associate to Castro, and he sent narcotics and related substances from several locations, including the city of New York.
The Dark Web as a Mean to Distribute Powerful Opioids
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated that “as he admitted today, for years, Richard Castro used the dark web to distribute prolific quantities of powerful opioids, including fentanyl and carfentanil. Castro thought he could hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and use online pseudonyms to deal drugs – like ‘Chems_usa’ and ‘Chemical_usa.’ Thanks to our law enforcement partners, ‘Chems_usa’ is now in U.S. prison.”
The indictment also informs that more than a year ago, in June 2018, “Chemsusa” had told clients that he would be migrating from the dark web to the encrypted email platform to sell his opioids.
By using the “Chems_usa” alias, he then prompted clients to pay a set amount of money for the email address. However, that proved to be the turning point in the case, as an undercover law enforcement officer caught and arrested him after paying the mentioned fee. The agent received the encrypted email address and proceeded to place an order of drugs, and that is how he was discovered.
Thousands of Transactions
Richard Castro had quite a business set up: it was reported that he managed to complete more than 3,200 on the deep web, on the Dream Market platform alone, although the number is probably bigger than that.
The press release explains that the substances that Castro was dealing with were highly dangerous: in fact, Fentanyl is said to be “significantly stronger” than heroin, and carfentanil is roughly 100 times stronger than fentanyl. Carfentanil is considered to be a “chemical weapon” by specialists in the area.
The plea deal details had Castro agreeing to give more than $4 million in illicit earnings, most precisely $4,156,198.18. Included in the number are the funds of his seven different BTC wallets.
By Andres Chavez