The darknet vendor known for using the password “asshole209” to decrypt messages—David Ryan Burchard—recently pleaded guilty to drug distribution that dated as far back as the Silk Road era. He admitted his guilt regarding the conspiracy to distribute marijuana charge and the possession with intent to distribute charge. The charges, of course, pertained to Burchard’s darknet activities. He sold (mainly) marijuana on at least four extinct darknet marketplaces: Silk Road, Agora, Abraxas, and AlphaBay.
Homeland Security Investigations SA Matthew Larsen wrote that Burchard aka CaliConnect was the third biggest US marijuana vendor on the Silk Road. Before Ross’s arrest and the server seizure, CaliConnect had made more than $1.4 from marijuana and cocaine. CalConnect lived well as a darknet drug dealer. As a result, some of the Federal government’s discoveries helped build a case against the man.
For starters, despite living at home with his wife and children, money kept pouring in. At one point, according to court documents, CaliConnect had deposited more than one million dollars in his personal bank account. Although not explicitly stated, the document described the deposit(s) in a way that indicated a lack of sanitization. Although, after staying at home—without a job—for seven years, he had limited options for money laundering.
The password “asshole209” gave the government access to several recent orders on darknet marketplaces. He had also used the password for marketplace logins, alongside subpoenaed “real life” companies. In reality, a generic wordlist, a single gigabyte of Burchard-related information, and a password cracking application could have easily gotten the password. It consisted of one generic word and the area code for Merced, California. No special characters or other measures. Burchard, by no coincidence, lived in Merced.
And law enforcement certainly noticed the activity. The document points out that, in spite of the fact that his house only cost $1350/month to rent, both Burchard and his wife lacked any source of income. The ages of his three children remained undisclosed, but the possibility of them working, let alone paying for the house was likely laughable. The vendor has also stacked more unexplainable expenses on top of the monthly house payment.
After his arrest, law enforcement seized four vehicles: Jaguar XF; Mercedes S63; undisclosed Mercedes; and a Chevrolet Tahoe. While cars could have been purchased when CaliConnect worked a 9-to-5, the production dates of the cars made that an unrealistic option. Furthermore, S63s cost well over $100,000. The other vehicles cost less than the S63, but for obvious reasons, this changed nothing. The United States government will take the clothes off someone’s back in a drug crime.
And incidentally, Burchard had applied for a trademark for the term “CALI CONNECT.” He unsurprisingly used his true identity when doing so. During his arrest, feds found clothing with “Cali Connect” branding.
His activities attracted the attention of more than the local police department:
- The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement;
- Homeland Security Investigations
- The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation;
- The U.S. Postal Inspection Service;
- The Fresno Police Department.
And ultimately, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
According to U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert, Burchard will be sentenced in on October 30. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years in custody and a fine up to one million dollars.