In Houston, a 50-year-old man was arrested for attempting to purchase explosives from the deepweb, federal prosecutors announced. The accused Cary Lee Ogborn, as it turns out, was unknowingly in contact with an undercover agent the entire time.
According to the criminal complaint, Ogborn attempted to find and purchase explosives on AlphaBay in early August 2016. The FBI looked into the illegal activity and discovered an anonymous user searching for explosive materials and devices. The complaint specifies the AlphaBay user specifically wanted wireless transmitters, dynamite and fragmentation grenades.
An Online Covert Employee (OCE) logged into a vendor account in late August. Once in the vendor account, the OCE reported receiving an unsolicited message from AlphaBay user “boatmanstv.” The message was titled “wireless detonator?” Following this initial message on August 21, Ogborn (boatmanstv) and the FBI OCE were in contact throughout the entire transaction.
Boatmanstv explained to the OCE that he needed several explosive components that could be shipped to Houston. Materials were needed to cause the explosion of a 20ft by 40ft wooden building he described as an apartment. In the first message, boatmanstv asked the undercover agent for a wireless transmitter with a detonator. “Everything I need to set of a 5 gallon canof gas from a good distance away,” he explained.
After the OCE confirmed he could deliver a wireless detonator, boatmanstv responded with the following.
Going to ignite gas because it is the cheapest way I know. If you know cheaper, pleaseinform. Don’t need big explosion, just need to make sure building 20ft 40 ft made ofwood burns to the ground. I don’t have a problem with being close buy. Just can’t use fuse because it will be at night and fuse burning can be seen at night. The explosive will be placed under the center of the building because it is up on blocks. The city and state that it will be going to is Houston Texas. I just received 300 FT of fuse. Ordered that before I found out it was going to have to be done at night. anks [sic] for all help. P.S. can you get dynamite in sticks or sticks? boatmanstv
The OCE replies to boatmanstv:
0k fuse not the best for you job. we get dynamite no problem you use that instead of gasyes? we send you kit from my country for dynamite with trigger you just place underbuilding and go use preset number you call to ignite. simple you know that how we buildit so no mistake. all parts they from EU for that so nobody find anything. the trick isgetting explosion hot enough to burn that can be difficult. it important to use the rightexplosive. is building like a house or different there stuff inside or empty you know? sorrywe ask it important to make device work you know. if you rather talk email we do that noproblem or this work too. we use email (OCE e-mail address). we wait to hear about that.
Boatmanstv denies the proposal to continue communications via email, telling the agent “I use Multi Hop VPN, no worries.” More back and forth take place and boatmanstv agrees to pay $300 for the detonation kit once he is able to move money to his Bitcoin wallet. Two days later, boatmanstv sends another message with a product inquiry.
Boatmanstv asking for another explosive device:
Also I forgot to ask and hope you dont [sic] mind me asking about a grenade. I seen a custom in store for one and it said you have one left. If so I may ask for that also if you thing [sic] you can make all the stuff I eant [sic] with shipping priority international with tracking for 600. 00 USD. Thanks boatmanstv
The OCE vendor messaged boatmanstv on September 10, sending notice that the products were ready for shipping. Boatmanstv provided the agent with an email address to send instructions, tracking information, and pictures.
Boatmanstv then used PGP encryption (which he called “ppg”) to safely send the vendor his address. As ARS points out, encrypting your address is of little help when one is accidentally communicating with law enforcement from the start. The OCE vendor sent boatmanstv a tracking number upon shipping the explosive components. After providing the buyer with a shipping notice, the OCE sent the mailing address to relevant law enforcement agencies.
The address boatmanstv used was a PO box in Houston, Texas. USPS looked up the PO box registration and found it was registered to a Randy Lee Smith. The registrant used an 832 area code phone number and provided a real Houston address. A Georgia driver’s license and auto insurance were used as the required forms of ID. Next, FBI agents concluded the name, phone number, driver’s license, and auto insurance were fake. However, USPS employees were able to provide the FBI with another piece of meaningful advice. The individual who accessed the PO box drove a “dark-colored” Chevrolet Corvette.
The following day, FBI agents travelled to the Houston address listed in the USPS records. Two blocks away, at the specified address, was a boat repair garage named “Cary’s Mobile Marine Services.” Inside the garage was a “grayish/silver” Corvette. Upon further inspection, agents found a phone number only a single digit different than the PO box registration phone number.
An analysis was then performed on boatmanstv’s outlook.com email address. For unknown reasons, the complaint does not disclose the methods used here. However, after examining the address, investigators discovered a link between the Outlook account and a Gmail account. Through Google searches and Facebook accounts, Ogborn was confirmed to be boatmanstv.
On September 16, Ogborn was seen picking up the package and driving back to his garage. He was arrested roughly four hours later.
Vocativ pointed out the 50-year-old posted a high-resolution picture of his passport on Facebook, commenting that he planned on moving to Belize. In 2013, he was arrested for illegally possessing an AR-15. Joshua Lake, Ogborn’s federal public defender, did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.