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Press Release

“Incognito Market” Owner Arrested For Operating One Of The Largest Illegal Narcotics Marketplaces On The Internet

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Rui-Siang Lin Used the Identity of “Pharoah” to Operate Incognito Market, Which Sold More Than $100 Million of Illegal Narcotics to Customers Around the World

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Merrick B. Garland, the Attorney General of the United States; James Smith, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); Frank A. Tarentino III, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”); Ivan J. Arvelo, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”); Charles Grinstead, the Special Agent in Charge of the Kansas City Field Office of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (“FDA-OCI”); Edward A. Caban, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”); and Elana Iatarola, the Special Agent in Charge of the Cincinnati Field Office of the FBI, announced today the arrest of RUI-SIANG LIN, a/k/a “Ruisiang Lin,” a/k/a “林睿庠,” a/k/a “Pharoah,” a/k/a “faro,” in connection with his operation and ownership of “Incognito Market,” an online dark web narcotics marketplace that enabled its users to buy and sell illegal narcotics anonymously around the world.  LIN was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport on May 18, 2024, and will be presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willis later today.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin operated a sophisticated and dangerous online narcotics marketplace through which he profited millions of dollars at the community’s expense.  The dedicated prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and our law enforcement partners will pursue criminal actors regardless of whether they operate on street corners or in the dark corners of the internet.  The so-called ‘dark web’ is not a safe haven for those who seek to break the law.”

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said: “Drug traffickers who think they can operate outside the law on the dark web are wrong.  As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin was the architect of Incognito, a $100 million dark web scheme to traffic deadly drugs to the U.S. and around the world.  The long arm of the law extends to the dark web, and we will bring to justice those who try to hide their crimes there.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said: “For nearly four years, Rui-Siang Lin allegedly operated ‘Incognito Market,’ one of the largest online platforms for narcotics sales, conducting $100 million in illicit narcotics transactions and reaping millions of dollars in personal profits.  Under the promise of anonymity, Lin’s alleged operation offered the purchase of lethal drugs and fraudulent prescription medication on a global scale.  The FBI is committed to targeting and dismantling all criminal enterprises, especially those whose leaders distribute illegal substances on the dark web.”

HSI Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo said: “As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin’s brazen operation resulted in the illicit sale of over $100 million in narcotics, including those that were mislabeled and later found to include deadly fentanyl.  The El Dorado Task Force’s Darkweb and Cryptocurrency Task Force leverages cutting-edge techniques to target even the Internet’s most savvy criminals.  HSI New York, in coordination with law enforcement partners, remains resolute in its commitment to protecting the public from individuals utilizing dangerous means to make a profit.”  

DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III said: “The arrest of ‘Incognito Market’ owner Rui-Siang Lin is a result of the continued working relationship the DEA has with our law enforcement partners in targeting individuals who use the dark web as a marketplace to promote the sale of illicit narcotics.  Mr. Lin’s alleged actions of putting profits before public health were not only reckless and dangerous, but unconscionable.  We will continue to make sure those who hide behind a keyboard and use the dark web to profit off lives face justice.”

FDA-OCI Special Agent in Charge Charles Grinstead said: “The FDA is committed to continuing its work to disrupt and dismantle the illegal sales of drugs on the dark web, where such sales far too often have tragic consequences.  We will continue to monitor, investigate and bring to justice those who misuse the internet in a quest for profits with reckless disregard for the risk to public health and safety.”   

NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban said: “This arrest underscores the dedicated, ongoing efforts of law enforcement to identify and dismantle illicit drug networks operating from every shadowy recess of the marketplace.  I commend our NYPD investigators and all of our state and federal partners for their unwavering commitment to public safety.”

As alleged in the Complaint and the Indictment unsealed today:[1]

Incognito Market was an online narcotics bazaar that existed on the dark web.  Incognito Market formed in October 2020.  Since that time, and through its closing in March 2024, Incognito Market sold more than $100 million of narcotics — including hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamines.  Incognito Market was available globally to anyone with internet access and could be accessed using the Tor web browser on the “dark web” or “darknet.”  LIN operated the Incognito market under the online pseudonym “Pharoah” or “faro.”  As “Pharoah” — the leader of Incognito market — LIN supervised all of its operations, including its employees, vendors, and customers, and had ultimate decision-making authority over every aspect of the multimillion-dollar operation. 

Incognito Market was designed to foster seamless narcotics transactions across the internet and across the world and incorporated many features of legitimate e-commerce sites such as branding, advertising, and customer service.  Upon visiting the site, users were met by a splash page and graphic interface, which is picture below:

Upon visiting the site, users were met by a splash page and graphic interface

After logging in with a unique username and password, users were able to search thousands of listings for narcotics of their choice.  Incognito Market sold illegal narcotics and misbranded prescription medication, including, heroin, cocaine, LSD, MDMA, oxycodone, methamphetamines, ketamine, and alprazolam.  An example of listings on Incognito market is below:

An example of listings on Incognito market

Listings included offerings of prescription medication that was advertised as being authentic but was not.  For example, in November 2023, an undercover law enforcement agent received several tablets that purported to be oxycodone, which were purchased on Incognito Market.  Testing on those tablets revealed that they were not authentic oxycodone at all and were, in fact, fentanyl pills.

Each listing on Incognito Market was sold by a particular vendor.  To become an Incognito Market vendor, each vendor was required to register with the site and pay an admission fee.  In exchange for listing and selling narcotics as a vendor on Incognito Market, each vendor paid 5% of the purchase price of every narcotic sold to Incognito Market.  That revenue funded Incognito Market’s operations, including paying “employee” salaries and for computer servers.  LIN collected millions of dollars of profits from Incognito.  To facilitate these financial transactions, Incognito Market had its own “bank,” which allowed its users to deposit cryptocurrency on the site into their own “bank accounts.”  After a narcotics transaction was completed, cryptocurrency from the buyer’s “bank account” was transferred to the seller’s “bank account,” less the 5% fee that Incognito collected.  The bank enabled buyers and sellers to stay anonymous from each other.  The bank’s graphic interface is picture below:

The bank’s graphic interface

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RUI-SIANG LIN, 23, of Taiwan, is charged with one count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison; one count of narcotics conspiracy, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum potential sentence of life in prison; one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to sell adulterated and misbranded medication, which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison.

The statutory minimum and maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge. 

Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the FBI, HSI, DEA, FDA-OCI, and NYPD.  

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (“OCDETF”) operation.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-drive, multi-agency approach.  Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at

The case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan B. Finkel and Nicholas Chiuchiolo are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, Indictment and the descriptions of the Complaint and Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff, Shelby Wratchford
(212) 637-2600

Updated May 20, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 24-176