David Ryan Burchard from Merced in California was arrested for distributing cocaine and marijuana all over the US through darknet markets such as the Silk Road, AlphaBay, Abraxas and Agora. The man who is 38 years old operated under the nickname Caliconnect. According to the Federal authorities’ estimate, the total value of all the deals made by him is $1.43 million.
The investigation against Caliconnect, which involved several people and agencies, started in March last year. Matthew Larsen, an HSI agent, launched an investigation against Burchard after he sold bitcoins worth millions of dollars to a digital currency exchanger who did not have a license.
Authorities carried out surveillance on his vehicle and residence through GPS, which revealed mailing of parcels by Burchard from a post office. Jessica Burger, a Postal Inspector, identified Burchard. HSI agents also observed Burchard’s attempt to mail parcels to a person in North Carolina. They retrieved the parcel from the bin and sent it to North Carolina Postal Inspectors.
Burger who had obtained a warrant for searching the seized parcel went to Fresno HSI office and with Larsen opened the seized parcel and found marijuana in it. In the meantime, a Postal Inspector from North Carolina reported that the addresses written on the parcels were bogus and that the parcels consisted of a controlled substance. A search of the parcels after obtaining a warrant showed that they contained marijuana.
HSI agents also learned that Burchard operated under the moniker Caliconnect and they searched the Internet for more information about Caliconnect. They came across Reddit posts and found out the names of people who had ordered marijuana from him. A review of the Silk Road vendor list given by HSI Headquarters helped Larsen to locate Caliconnect’s name on the list.
On the Silk Road, Larsen determined, Caliconnect was the eighteenth largest vendor. His sales volume was $1,250,248.65. Larsen also came across a vendor by name the_real_caliconnect on Agora, who claimed to be a vendor at Silk Road, Silk Road 2.0 and the Black-Market Reloaded as well. He also sold marijuana. A search of the PGP key of the_real_Caliconnect on Grams showed that he operated under the name Caliconnect4life on AlphaBay.
In the meanwhile, Larsen determined, through postal tracking numbers, that the post offices used for sending the parcels were all located near to Burchard’s home. He also learned through DEA that a vendor with username Caliconnect2 bought phentermine from the Silk Road marketplace. A review revealed 977 transactions carried out by Caliconnect on the Silk Road marketplace and HSI determined that he sold 10.5 grams of cocaine and 704 pounds of marijuana.
Subsequently, Larsen along with another HSI investigator obtained surveillance photos from Raley’s Supermarket, which helped people ship products, to get pictures of Burchard as he booked parcels from this supermarket. Larsen followed David Burchard to Raley’s Supermarket and reviewed response received from AccountNow as regards a Prepaid Visa card. The information from AccountNow matched with the data Larsen had collected on Burchard.
Intern Mann, Daniel, a detective in Fresno Police Department, and Larsen contacted Caliconnect4life using username Megiddo to buy half a pound of marijuana (OG Crack) for $900. The packet was to be delivered at Buffalo in New York. Caliconnect4life informed Megiddo through a private message as to when the delivery can be expected. Larsen received the packet at the specified address.
Following this, Larsen obtained a warrant to search Burchard’s residence. It was executed by the IRS, Larsen, the USPIS, other HSI agents, California Highway Patrol and the Police Department in Merced. They found Burchard, his wife, and 3 children at home. They also seized various computers, storage devices and other items that are normally associated with narcotics. They also found clothing with Caliconnect label on it.
Though Burchard denied selling marijuana, he did admit that his clothing brand’s name was Caliconnect. Further, computer forensics revealed incriminating evidence about his dealings in the darknet markets.