Ryan Farace (34) has been charged for masterminding illegal drug sales on the dark web. According to the indictment, Farace operated drug trades on the online black market for five years and successfully delivered many ordered packages through postal services after customers made payment in Bitcoin. He has been charged with money laundering and illegal drug trafficking. According to a report released, a sum of $30 million suspected to be a proceed from his illegal trade is on the verge of being recovered by authorities.
His contact with the dark web dates back to 2013 when authorities discovered him purchasing fake Xanax pills. Records indicate that the 34 year old man was in possession of 5,413 pills in May 2016. In November 2016, authorities also discovered that 1,180 pills were in his possession. Not giving up on the trade, 341 pills were recovered from him in January 2017. He faces six counts of illegal operations from 2013 to 2017. Robert Swain, a co-conspirator was also charged with money laundering. The duo conducted a financial transaction with the proceeds from the illegal drug trade to cover up and disguise the source and the nature of their activities.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions believes that the many dark web related arrests in recent times indicate that the encrypted site is no place to hide. “Make no mistake, the forces of law and justice face a new challenge from the criminals and transnational criminal organizations who think they can commit their crimes with impunity using the darknet. The darknet is not a place to hide,” he said.
The defendant and the co-conspirator had their assets of $22 million seized. $17 million of the seized assets were cryptocurrencies, $2.5 million in computer equipment and $1.5 million in cash. Aside from these, the government also seeks to seize two houses and vehicles that belong to Farace. According to a press release by the Justice Department, Farace faces up to five years imprisonment for manufacturing and possessing alprazolam with the intent to distribute. Farace and Swain also face up to 20 years imprisonment for money laundering. Swain has currently been released under the US pretrial service while Farace has been detained.
An investigation revealed that Farace did not live any expensive lifestyle despite the fortune he found in the online drug business. He lived in a $350,000 mortgaged house in Reisterstown. This might have been an attempt to avoid any form of suspicion. He bought a 2010 Lincoln Navigator in 2014. Further information says that he made a very big revelation on his Facebook wall which later became a piece of evidence against him. He gave a hint of a possible engagement with an online black market and other coded revelations in the Facebook post.
This arrest is part of the investigation results of the US Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency and other agencies in charge of dealing with drugs on the dark web. Their collaborated effort led to the arrest of a French dark web vendor some months ago. Over 35 arrests are reported to have been made by the authorities. Over 70 search warrants were issued and a bunch of illegal drugs seized. The search also resulted in the seizure of about 100 firearms and few vehicles.
The DEA special agent in charge of the operation also said that a major threat the country faces is “cyber drug trafficking”. He said that the dark web has invited criminals to various homes and has made the fight against traffickers difficult. However, he made it clear that their recent arrests are meant to send a message to the drug traffickers, that they can expose them even on the dark web. The efforts to reduce dark web imported drugs are clearly shown in the recent interceptions made by the US postal services.