The Ministry of Justice of USA (DoJ) announced that a 25-year-old man from Colorado, named Bryan Connor Herrell, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for operating the dark web marketplace "AlphaBay". Specifically, court documents state that between May 2016 and July 2017, Herrell acted as marketplace administrator and as scam watcher, with nicknames "Penissmith" and "Botah".
During this time, Herrell settled more than 20.000 disputes between sellers and buyers and was rewarded with Bitcoin for services by the owner of AlphaBay. Herrell was charged with extortion, as evidenced by an indictment filed in December 2017, and pleaded guilty on January 27, 2020. The court sentenced him to 11 years in prison, although he pleaded guilty to a maximum sentence of 20 years after pleading guilty. .
The punishment comes after a massive operation by the FBI, DEA, Europol and some local authorities from various countries that secretly took control of the popular dark web markets "AlphaBay" and "Hansa" which were among the largest dark web markets. with profits of the former amounting to approximately $ 500.000 per day. Their sudden disappearance left a huge void on the dark web - a void filled by other similar platforms a year later.
In addition, the creator of AlphaBay, the Canadian Alexandre Cazes, died in prison. Cazes was arrested at his home in Bangkok, Thailand in June 2017 by the Royal Thai Police, with the help of FBI and the DEA. His identity was discovered by the FBI after several shots OpSec, such as the use of personal address e-mail of the AlphaBay Administrator to deliver welcome messages to new members in the AlphaBay Forum. Cazes managed to earn more than $ 23 million in cryptocurrencies during the operation of AlphaBay, and held real money in various bank accounts in Thailand, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and St. Vincent, among others. Thai authorities also seized cars and real estate worth about $ 12,5 million after Cazes was arrested.
During his arrest, police found him laptop of open and in an unencrypted state. Agents and officers found several text files that identified them passwords/ passkeys for the AlphaBay site, AlphaBay servers and other AlphaBay-related online identities.
According to a press release issued by the DoJ, AlphaBay is still under investigation until all former market managers are found and convicted, although Cazes' indictment was dropped after he was found dead in his cell a week after his arrest on July 12, 2017. where he was being held on drug charges at the request of US authorities.
At AlphaBay, sellers and buyers made hundreds of thousands of illegal transactions for weapons, drugs, stolen IDs, credit card numbers and other illegal items, DoJ reported. AlphaBay was considered the largest online drug market, with FBI Director Andrew McCabe saying it was ten times larger than Silk Road, with more than 200.000 users and about 40.000 vendors.
According to Europol, there were over 250.000 listings for illegal drugs and toxic chemicals in the dark web marketplace "AlphaBay" and over 100.000 listings for stolen and "fraudulent" identification documents and devices access, counterfeit products, malware and other electronic intrusion tools, firearms and "fraudulent" services. He added that, with a conservative estimate, AlphaBay from its inception in 2014 until its closure, traded $ 1 billion, while the transactions were paid in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In addition, market servers were seized by authorities in Canada and the Netherlands, and millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies were "frozen" and confiscated.
AlphaBay stopped operating on the dark web after a joint operation by the police, known as "Bayonet", in July 2017, in both Canada and Thailand.