Second Man Sentenced to Prison for Distributing Heroin on Dark Web Marketplace AlphaBay
FRESNO, Calif. — Chaudhry Ahmad Farooq, 25, a Pakistani national residing in Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd to 23 months in prison for conspiring to distribute heroin, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Farooq and co-defendant Abdullah Almashwali, 33, a Yemeni national formerly residing in Brooklyn, New York, distributed heroin and cocaine on the dark web marketplace AlphaBay using the vendor names “Area51” and “DarkApollo.” Dark web marketplaces are operated on computer networks designed to conceal the true Internet Protocol address of the computers accessing the network. Dark web marketplaces allow for payments to be made only in the form of digital currency, most commonly in Bitcoin. AlphaBay was shut down by law enforcement in July 2017.
Farooq and Almashwali accepted orders for heroin and cocaine on AlphaBay, and then mailed the narcotics from post offices in New York to customers throughout the United States. They received payment in Bitcoin. In May 2016, law enforcement agents made two undercover purchases of heroin from “Area51,” which were delivered to a post office box in the Eastern District of California. Postal records revealed that Almashwali purchased the postage for the two heroin parcels mailed to law enforcement, and that Farooq was involved in other mailings. Law enforcement agents were also able to determine that the encrypted email address used by “Area51” and “DarkApollo” was associated with actual Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts used by Farooq.
Farooq was ordered to begin serving his sentence on March 7, 2018. Co-defendant Almashwali was sentenced to six and a half years in prison on July 24, 2017.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Grant B. Rabenn and Ross Pearson prosecuted the case.
This case was 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.