SEP 03 (LOS ANGELES) –A Dutch national pleaded guilty late Tuesday to federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges, admitting he conspired to run a secret, on-line narcotics marketplace known as the “The Farmer's Market” that sold controlled substances such as LSD, Ecstasy, and marijuana to thousands of customers around the world.
Marc Peter Willems, 45, of the Netherlands, entered his plea on September 2. When he is sentenced on December 10, he faces a potential sentence of life in federal prison.
Willems was one of eight defendants indicted in April 2010 in connection with DEA Operation “Adam Bomb,” a long-term investigation that uncovered the “Farmer’s Market,” an international online drug bazaar that attempted to operate in anonymity by using the encrypted TOR network. TOR allows websites and electronic mail communications to completely mask Internet Protocol (IP) address information by spreading communications over a series of relay computers located worldwide. The Farmer’s Market accepted payments for illegal drug sales through Western Union, Pecunix, PayPal and I-Golder.
The 12-count indictment described how the Farmer’s Market (also known as “Adam Flowers”) allowed independent traffickers to advertise illegal drugs for sale by providing order forms, on-line forums, customer service, and payment methods for the different sources of supply. The operators screened all sources of supply and guaranteed delivery of the illegal drugs in exchange for a commission based upon the value of the order. Investigators identified customers in every U.S. state and in approximately 45 other countries. One of the “customers,” however, was an undercover DEA special agent based in Los Angeles.
In his plea agreement, Willems acknowledged that the Farmer’s Market processed approximately $2.5 million in orders for illegal drugs over the course of several years.
Anthony D. Williams, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Los Angeles Field Division, said: “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates DEA’s commitment to identify, apprehend, and bring to justice all drug traffickers, including those who attempt to cloak their illegal activities utilizing the perceived anonymity of the Internet. This conviction sends a clear message that law enforcement can and will use creative investigative techniques to uncover and dismantle online drug marketplaces such as the one operated by Mr. Willems.”
“The Illegal sale of narcotics cannot be cloaked through the use of the Internet, even when sophisticated technology is used to conceal the drug trafficking,” said Acting United States Attorney Stephanie Yonekura. “Working with our law enforcement partners domestically and around the world, we have the ability to uncover and prosecute this hidden, illegal activity.”