Last week federal, state, and international law enforcement authorities 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.
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.
“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.
“[The] 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.”
Law enforcement authorities in Lelystad, Netherlands arrested lead defendant, Marc Willems, at his home. Previously, 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 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.