The darkweb drug vendor OxyMonster was sentenced to 20 years in prison in a Florida courtroom in early October. The court heard that OxyMonster both sold controlled substances on several darkweb markets and worked as a senior staff member on one of the most popular markets in existence.
Gal Vallerius, a 36-year-old French national who had entered the United States to attend a beard competition, was investigated and prosecuted by the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. The Task Force’s work led to a conviction through a plea agreement signed on August 28. And U.S. District Court Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. handed down a prison sentence based on the information provided in the plea agreement and information disclosed in a factual proffer. In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Scola ordered Vallerius to forfeit almost 100 Bitcoin and 121 Bitcoin Cash.
Vallerius sold substance on several darkweb marketplaces and reportedly worked as either a moderator or an administrator of more than one market. United States law enforcement, however, focused only on the man’s activities that took place under the OxyMonster moniker on Dream Market. On Dream, Vallerius sold more controlled substances than mentioned in court or referenced in the indictment. Assistant U.S. Attorney Juan A. Gonzalez of the Southern District of Florida, Trial Attorney C. Alden Pelker, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank R. Maderal sought a drug conviction for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Oxycodone and Ritalin. Vallerius pleaded guilty to the Oxycodone and Ritalin charges in August.
They also pushed for and later obtained a conviction for Conspiracy to Launder Money. The money laundering charge stemmed from Vallerius’ method of cashing out on his cryptocurrency proceeds. His laundering also was part of what led to his identification as OxyMonster; the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered a connection between a Bitcoin tip jar address on OxyMonster’s profile and a LocalBitcoins account under the name “Gal Vallerius.” Vallerius either sent money directly from the Dream tip jar wallet to a wallet under his control that he used with LocalBitcoins customers or the Drug Enforcement Administration employed some advanced blockchain analysis to learn where the OxyMonster’s tips went.
Dozens of agencies and state organizations were credited for Valentine’s arrest, conviction, and sentencing. Among those credited was the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) unit. Given the IRS’ advanced role in tracing money, tracing the tip jar Bitcoin may have been more difficult than simply looking at a single output from the address on the OxyMonster Dream profile.
Other agencies were led by U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida as mentioned in the press release, and included the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Federal Bureau of Investigation Miami Field Office; the Federal Bureau of Investigation Cyber Task Force; the Miami office of the United States Postal Inspection Service; Finnish International Judicial Administration of the Ministry of Justice; Finnish National Police; Customs and Border Protection Field Operations in Atlanta; Dutch National Police; Europol; the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs; the French Ministry of Justice; the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force; and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Prosecutor’s Offices in both the Northern District of Georgia and the Southern District of Florida also received credit.
The roles of some of the international agencies were not revealed in any court documents. However, Georgia was involved in an essential part of the collection of evidence, arrest, and extradition. Law enforcement in Florida had no simple way to get Vallerius to the United States without risking the destruction of evidence. During the investigation, they learned that Vallerius would fix their problem for them. Vallerius was known for his beard. He entered competitions, chatted with other bearded individuals on forums, and posted about his beard on social networking sites. The DEA learned that Vallerius had planned to enter a beard competition in the United States. Vallerius flew from France to Atlanta, Georgia. The DEA arrested him after his plane had landed. They found that he carried a laptop with access to his Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash wallets, as well as, evidence that Vallerius frequently accessed Dream Market.
Compared to a possible life sentence Vallerius feared prior to signing the plea agreement, 20 years in prison is relatively brief. If Vallerius serves the full 20 years, he will not be able to return to his wife in France until age 56. The announcement did not contain any information about a supervised release following prison. After countless court appearances, the United States’ case against Gal Vallerius has reached an end.