U.S. busts an alleged global online drug market, arrests eight

April 17, 2012

Chicago Tribune on April 16, 2012 released the following:

“Dan Whitcomb | Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Eight men charged with running an elaborate online narcotics market that sold drugs to 3,000 people in the United States and 34 other countries have been arrested following a two-year investigation dubbed “Operation Adam Bomb,” prosecutors said on Monday.

The secret ring known as “The Farmer’s Market” operated through the TOR computer network, which allows users to communicate anonymously, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Monday in Los Angeles.

The online drug market provided order forms and customer service, guaranteeing delivery in exchange for a commission and accepting payment through PayPal, Western Union and other means, the indictment charges.

Authorities said the defendants were accused of running one of the most sophisticated drug marketplaces on the Internet and said the prosecution represented a first of its kind.

“The drug trafficking organization targeted in Operation Adam Bomb was distributing dangerous and addictive drugs to every corner of the world, and trying to hide their activities through the use of advanced anonymizing on-line technology,” Briane Grey, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration acting special agent in charge, said in a written release.

“Today’s action should send a clear message to organizations that are using technology to conduct criminal activity that the DEA and our law enforcement partners will track them down and bring them to justice,” Grey said.

Marc Willems, 42, who is accused of creating and running “The Farmer’s Market,” was taken into custody at his home in Lelystad, Netherlands, by Dutch authorities, U.S. Attorneys spokeswoman Gymeka Williams said.

Law enforcement officials in Bogota arrested 42-year-old Michael Evron, a U.S. citizen living in Argentina who allegedly oversaw technical and customer support for the online marketplace, as he was attempting to leave Colombia, Williams said.

Jonathan Colbeck, 51; Brian Colbeck, 47; Ryan Rawls, 31; Jonathan Dugan, 27; George Matzek, 20; and Charles Bigras, 37, were arrested at their respective homes in Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Florida.

All eight defendants were charged with federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges and prosecutors had filed extradition papers to return Willems and Evron back to the United States for trial, Williams said.

Each faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

According to the 66-page indictment, “The Farmer’s Market” allowed independent sources to advertise illegal drugs – including LSD, ecstasy, fentanyl, mescaline ketamine, DMT and high-end marijuana – for sale to the public.

The deals were allegedly handled through the online marketplace, which processed more than 5,200 orders for controlled substances valued at more than $1 million between January 2007 and October 2009, the indictment charges.

The law enforcement operation was called “Adam Bomb” because the original name of the marketplace was Adamflowers, according to the indictment.

According to its website, TOR offers free software and an open network that allows users to defend against “network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy.””


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The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

Members of Alleged Israeli Crime Family Extradited to U.S.; Face Drug Trafficking and Racketeering Charges

January 14, 2011

Five people reputedly involved in one of Israel’s most powerful organized crime families appeared in federal court in Los Angeles yesterday to face drug trafficking and racketeering charges.

Itzhak and Meir Abergil, along with three other individuals, pleaded not guilty to charges related to their alleged roles in a massive Los Angeles-based Ecstasy ring described in a 2008 indictment. They were extradited from Israel and, escorted by U.S. marshals, arrived in the U.S. late Wednesday.

The Abergils and several associates were arrested in Israel in 2008 after being indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. An Israeli court ruled the men “extraditable” in July 2009, but they appealed. A court rejected their petition last month, paving the way for their extraditions.

The men will remain in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center while they await trial. No bonds were set for any of the individuals because they were seen as a flight risk.

Itzhak Abergil, Meir Abergil, Sasson Barashy, Moshe Malul and Israel Ozifa were in shackles when they appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zarefsky. Each individual required the assistance of a Hebrew translator.

Zarefsky assigned the case to U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder. No date has been set for the trial, which U.S. attorneys estimated would last about two months.

If convicted, the men could face life in prison. They would serve their sentences in Israel under the U.S. extradition treaty.

Israel for decades had refused to extradite its citizens. But the country amended its laws in 1999 to grant extradition requests to nations that promised to return defendants who are convicted abroad to Israel to serve their sentences.

For further reading, view the original U.S. extradition treaty with Israel. The treaty was amended in 2005 by the Israeli extradition protocol, available here.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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