Dark Web Vendor Pleads Guilty to Narcotics Trafficking and Money Laundering Charges
A French national who was serving at times as an administrator and senior moderator on one of the largest dark web criminal marketplaces pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to launder money.
U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg for the Southern District of Florida, Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Special Agent in Charge Adolphus P. Wright of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Miami Field Office made the announcement.
Gal Vallerius, aka “Oxymonster,” 36, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. in the Southern District of Florida. According to the court record, including the agreed upon factual proffer, beginning in or around November 2013 a criminal online marketplace known as Dream Market began operating on the Tor “dark web” network. Dream Market was designed to promote and facilitate the anonymous sale of illegal items. In time, the Dream Market website became one of the largest dark web criminal marketplaces. All of the items and services on Dream Market were offered for sale in exchange for Bitcoin and other peer-to-peer crypto-currencies.
According to the agreed upon factual proffer, Vallerius first participated in the conspiracy by becoming a vendor on Dream Market. As a vendor, he sold Oxycodone and Ritalin under the moniker “Oxymonster.” Shortly thereafter, Dream Market employed the defendant who acted at times as an administrator and senior moderator. In these positions, he played a role supporting the daily illicit transactions between buyers and vendors on Dream Market, such as the trafficking in narcotics, and the laundering of illicit proceeds using virtual currencies, Dream Market’s tumblers and the dark web. Vallerius is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Scola on Sept. 25 at 8:30 a.m.
This investigation and prosecution was carried out by members of the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. The South Florida HIDTA, established in 1990, is made up of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that, cooperatively, target the region’s drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The South Florida HIDTA is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy which sponsors a variety of initiatives focused on combatting the nation’s illicit drug trafficking threats.
The prosecution is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state, and local law enforcement.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the DEA Miami Field Office and Paris Country Office, FBI Miami, IRS Criminal Investigation Miami Field Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Miami and Atlanta Field Offices, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Field Operations Atlanta, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Miami Field Office, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, Europol, Special Operations Division (SOD), Finnish National Police, Finnish International Judicial Administration of the Ministry of Justice, Dutch National Police, French Ministry of Justice and the Direction Interregionale de la Police Judiciaire as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Juan A. Gonzalez and Frank R. Maderal of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney C. Alden Pelker of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS).