Alleged Dark Web Narcotics Trafficker Indicted for Distributing Heroin and Methamphetamine in Exchange for Bitcoin
Offered Free Shipping of Illegal Drugs to Customers in the United States
Defendant Joanna De Alba, a U.S. citizen, will be arraigned this afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn on an indictment charging her with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and methamphetamine, and distribution of heroin and methamphetamine via the “dark web.” De Alba was detained on October 24, 2019 at the U.S.-Mexico border while attempting to enter the United States. The arraignment will be held before United States Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA), announced the charges.
“As alleged, De Alba dispensed heroin and methamphetamine from the shadowy corners of the internet, believing that it provided anonymity to her and her customers,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “But thanks to the outstanding work by this Office’s prosecutors and DEA special agents, a bright light has been shined on her activities, and she will now be held to account for her charged criminal acts.”
“Anonymity is what drug dealers rely on in the dark web, but this case proves it’s a false security. Law enforcement is committed to tracking down drug traffickers’ distribution networks everywhere,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Donovan.
The internet contains online marketplaces for narcotics and other contraband on the “dark web,” a part of the internet located beyond the reach of traditional internet browsers and accessible only through networks designed to conceal user identities. As alleged, the “Wall Street Market” was a global dark web marketplace that required its users to trade in digital currencies, primarily Bitcoin.
Between June 2018 and May 2019, De Alba allegedly advertised and sold illegal narcotics on the Wall Street Market, using the moniker “RaptureReloaded.” Customers were directed to pay her in Bitcoin, and contact her through encrypted email and messaging services. De Alba offered customers free shipping to addresses in the United States, and “stealth” delivery options ranging from “Basic Stealth” and “Better Stealth,” to “Super Stealth 360.” These options featured measures to conceal the external and internal packaging of illegal narcotics to evade detection by law enforcement, and to inform buyers if law enforcement had intercepted, tampered with, or was monitoring the shipment.
On January 3, 2019, an undercover DEA agent accessed the RaptureReloaded listing on the Wall Street Market and purchased 30 grams of heroin for a total of $1,810. Later that day, the undercover agent purchased 10 grams of methamphetamine from the RaptureReloaded listing for a total of $160. As requested, the undercover agent paid for the drugs with Bitcoin. On January 14, 2019, the undercover agent retrieved a package shipped by RaptureReloaded via the U.S. postal service to a mailbox in Queens, New York. The package contained a small plastic container containing approximately 30 grams of a substance that tested positive for heroin, and a clear plastic bag containing approximately 10 grams of a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine. Between August 2018 and January 2019, law enforcement agents intercepted five packages containing methamphetamine pills and fentanyl that were shipped from the Netherlands and Canada and addressed to De Alba’s deceased husband at an apartment in southern California. Allegedly, since her husband’s death in March 2018, De Alba used his identity and credit cards to fund her narcotics business on the Wall Street Market.
If convicted of all counts, De Alba faces a mandatory minimum term of five years’ imprisonment and a maximum sentence of up to 100 years in prison.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Saritha Komatireddy and Francisco J. Navarro.
JOANNA DE ALBA (also known as “RaptureReloaded”)
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-563 (DLI)