The Farmer’s Market,” as the online store was called, was like an Amazon for consumers of controlled substances, according to a 66-page indictment unsealed on Monday. It offered online forums, Web-based order forms, customer service, and at least four methods of payment, including PayPal and Western Union. From January 2007 to October 2009, it processed some 5,256 orders valued at $1.04 million. The site catered to about 3,000 customers in 35 countries, including the United States.
- To elude law enforcement officers, the operators used software provided by the TOR Project that makes it virtually impossible to track the activities of users’ IP addresses. The alleged conspirators also used IP anonymizers and covert currency transactions to cover their tracks. The indictment, which cited e-mails sent among the men dating back to 2006, didn’t say how investigators managed to infiltrate the site or link it to the individuals accused of running it.
- Prosecutors said in a press release that the charges were the result of a two-year investigation led by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles field division. “Operation Adam Bomb, ” as the investigation was dubbed, also involved law enforcement agents from several US states and several countries, including Colombia, the Netherlands, and Scotland.
- Lead defendant Marc Willem was arrested on Monday at his home in Lelystad, Netherlands, federal prosecutors said in a press release. On Sunday, authorities arrested Michael Evron, a US citizen who lives in Argentina as he was attempting to leave Colombia. The remaining defendants—Jonathan Colbeck, Brian Colbeck, Ryan Rawls, Jonathan Dugan, George Matzek, and Charles Bigras—were arrested at their respective homes in Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Attempts to reach the men for comment weren’t immediately successful.
- The arrests come about a year after Gawker documented the existence of Silk Road, an online narcotics storefront that was available only to TOR users. The site sold LSD, Afghani hashish, tar heroin and other controlled substances and allowed customers to pay using the virtual currency known as Bitcoin, the article reported. It wasn’t immediately clear what the relationship between Silk Road and Farmer’s Market is.