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Press Release

Dark-Web Drug Traffickers Sentenced in Separate Cases to 80 Months and 70 Months in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — In separate cases, two defendants were sentenced today for drug trafficking on the dark-web marketplace AlphaBay, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

Chief U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill sentenced David Ryan Burchard, 40, of Merced, to six years and eight months in prison. He sentenced Emil Vladimirov Babadjov, 33, a Bulgarian and U.S. dual-national formerly residing in San Francisco, to five years and 10 months in prison.

Dark web sites such as AlphaBay operate on “The Onion Router” or “TOR” network, a special network of computers on the internet, which are distributed around the world. The network is designed to conceal the true Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of computers that access the network, and thus the locations and identities of the network’s users and the computer servers hosting the websites, which are referred to as “hidden services.” The “hidden services” have complex web addresses generated by a computer algorithm ending in “.onion” and can only be accessed through specific web browser software designed to access the TOR network. AlphaBay was shut down by U.S. law enforcement on July 5, 2017, and is no longer in operation.

According to court documents, Burchard, using the moniker “Caliconnect,” was a major narcotics vendor on the Silk Road and other dark-web marketplaces, including Agora, Abraxas and AlphaBay. Burchard accepted orders for marijuana and cocaine on the dark web and then mailed the narcotics from post offices in Merced and Fresno County to customers located throughout the United States. Burchard was paid primarily in Bitcoin. Burchard conducted sales in excess of $1.4 million on the Silk Road before that marketplace was closed, at which point Burchard transferred his narcotics business to Agora and then to AlphaBay.

In a separate case, Babadjov, using the monikers “Blime-Sub” and “BTH-Overdose,” was a heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine trafficker on the dark-web marketplace AlphaBay. Babadjov accepted orders for drugs on AlphaBay and then mailed the drugs from a post office in San Francisco to customers throughout the United States. On October 20, 2016, law enforcement agents made an undercover purchase of heroin from “Blime-Sub,” which was delivered to a post office box in the Eastern District of California. The parcel contained a mixture of fentanyl and heroin.

The Burchard case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Fresno Police Department. The Babadjov case was the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from ICE-HSI, IRS-CI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant B. Rabenn prosecuted the cases.

Babadjov is currently in federal custody, and Burchard was ordered to surrender to federal custody on April 12, 2018.

These cases were part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

Updated January 16, 2018

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 1:16-cr-051-LJO, 1:16-cr-204-LJO