Two Brooklyn men have been indicted for selling cocaine and heroin on the dark web.
This follows a string of arrests of dark web vendors in recent times.
On August 2, 2016, law enforcement officers arrested Abudullah Almashwali and Chaudhry Ahmad Farooq.
And on August 11, 2016, Thursday, they were indicted on charges of distributing heroin and cocaine, and federal conspiracy, according to an announcement by Phillip A. Talbert, Acting US Attorney, on the website of the Department of Justice.
According to the documents filed in the court, 31-year-old Alrmashwali, a Yemeni national, and 24-year-old Farooq, a Pakistani national, are large-scale vendors of heroin and cocaine and they primarily operated on the darknet market for illicit goods, the Alpha Bay.
They both reside in Brooklyn, New York and operated under pseudonyms “Area5” and “DarkApollo.”
Besides Alpha Bay, they also sold drugs on other darknet markets such as Dream Market and Oasis, and also on Agora and Nucleus when the sites were still operational.
It was widely speculated that the two Alpha Bay accounts were operated by one person as the nature and quality of the products sold by them were the same.
In fact, DarkApollo had even suggested users to check out the products offered by Area51.
At one point in time, even their accounts looked similar.
Further, Area51 informed through a Reddit post that he had set up a darknet market of his own.
Though they have turned out to be different vendors, the federal conspiracy charge was slapped on them as it was evident that they were working together.
Both Alpha Bay vendors shipped drugs throughout the US for the orders they accepted on Alpha Bay.
The law enforcement officials made two controlled heroin purchases from Area51 in May 2016.
Law enforcement officials tracked the packages shipped from post offices in New York to a post office box in California’s Eastern District.
They also identified Farooq’s involvement in other mailings.
During their investigation, law enforcement officers found out that the encrypted email address used by “Area51” and “DarkApollo” was linked to social network accounts (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) used by Farooq.
According to Reddit users who have bought drugs from both vendors, they use a similar return address.
The Central California Darknet Strike Force is responsible for the investigation of this case, which is constituted of officials from multiple agencies such as the DEA, Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs, Postal Inspection Service, and IRS. DEA was the lead agency on the case.
The prosecutors for this case are Assistant Attorneys Jeffrey Spivak and Grant B. Rabenn.
If convicted, Almashwali and Farooq would have to pay a fine of $1 million and spend 20 years in prison.
They will be transferred to the Eastern District of California and be held there until their sentencing.