The latest triumph for the US Drug Enforcement Agency involves the arrest and conviction of three high-profile Silk Road drug vendors.
The three, Julian Villa-Gomez Lemus, Fadhle Muqbel Saeed, and Alfonso Bojorquez were arraigned in a Florida court where they pleaded guilty of drug distribution using darknet markets such as Silk Road.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Silk Road 3.0 is BACK ONLINE and open for business. The team did a massive security overhaul on the site to try and make it more secure and anonymous.
31-year-old Lemus was the last of the three to be convicted within the same week for near-similar crimes that involved the sale of illicit substances.
Although they were all pinned for a catalogue of slightly dissimilar charges, the trio was ultimately linked to a similar charge, and that was the conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
It was a good week for the DEA, who spearheaded the investigations with the help of the now highly-resourceful USPIS, and the state of California where the three Silk Road drug vendors resided.
The Trio was Involved in a Drug Distribution Conspiracy
Each of the three Silk Road drug vendors was indicted on two counts, the first one being the conspiracy to distribute controlled substances such as marijuana, hydrocodone, and also methamphetamine.
The apparent associates were also charged with aiding and abetting each other and other drug vendors and criminals that remain unknown to the court.
Initially charged with the conspiracy to distribute only the three aforementioned substances, a subsequent announcement from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida revealed that the group was also heavily involved in the sale and distribution of steroids and cocaine as well.
The announcement revealed that the three were part of a drug trade that spread across the United States and some parts of Australia.
The Three Silk Road Drug Vendors Considered “Heavy Hitters” in the Digital Drug Trade
Based on the DEA’s testimony before the federal jury in Orlando, Florida, the trio was not a small-scale drug cartel.
They ran a massive drug empire using Silk Road as just one of their platforms, and, according to the DEA, had carried out a total of 1,300 transactions up to the point of arrest.
Purported to have started their operations back in October 2012, the trio had amassed a total of $1.9 million in their years of operation.
In addition to the upcoming sentences for the three, they will also have to forfeit the proceeds of their drug operation, which may be equivalent to the above-stated amount.
Questions Raised Over the Indictment of the Three Silk Road Drug Vendors
The indictment has sparked a lot of interest on Reddit (/r/DarkNetMarkets), with a lot of questions revolving around Fadhle Muqbel Saeed.
Arguably, most of the controversy is centered on why this particular Silk Road drug vendor, despite his numerous aliases on different darknet markets, had gone unnoticed by law enforcement for so long.
Consequently, the general consensus was that the government should have made the arrests a lot earlier considering the scale of the operation ran by the three convicts.
As a result, it took a substantial amount of time to go through all these three men’s associated cases.
For instance, Saeed’s profile came attached to three different monikers from three different darknet markets.
He went by the nicknames “darkexpresso,” “Damien Darko,” and “bonappetit” on his various accounts.
He was also ranked among the top 11% of drug vendors with 100% positive reviews on Silk Road, and had conducted an upwards of 300 transactions on Silk Road in the short span of a year.
Sentences to be Delivered Shortly
The six-count indictment holds a maximum sentence of up to 20 years for each of the men in a federal prison.
The men will be awaiting their respective sentences, which will be delivered on the March 23rd, 2017 according to Attorney A.
Lee Bentley the Third. The charges for all three men involved both their state of residence, California, and Florida where the hearing has been taking place.
The USPIS has been credited for being instrumental in the DEA’s investigation, which was set into motion on the May 11th, 2016 after being signed off on by the necessary authorities.