The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia issued their own press release about the Alphabay takedown. On Twitter, one of the state’s many official Twitter accounts tweeted they were proud of Georgia law enforcement’s role in the takedown. The press release’s subtitle, “Two Matters Prosecuted Locally in Atlanta Have Connections to Historic Takedown of Criminal Marketplace,” outright misleads readers. The press release details, almost exclusively, Alexandre Cazes. No details of the mysterious Alphabay staffer mentioned by the Justice Department.
According to the DoJ’s Office of Criminal Affairs announcement, an investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta and the FBI-Atlanta Field Division identified an Alphabay staffer, “living in the United States.” Not necessarily living in Atlanta nor relevant to the operation—as if he or she was a low level PR representative on Reddit or Alphabay forums. However, the Northern District of Georgia feels differently about the “roles” they played in the takedown.
“Today’s announcement by DOJ that darknet market AlphaBay has been taken down is tremendous–AlphaBay was bigger than Silk Road,” a NDGA spokesperson wrote. “We’re proud that two [U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia] and [FBI Atlanta] matters have connections to this takedown,” they concluded. FBI Atlanta’s statement sounded similar. With a link to the NDGA press release, the FBI Atlanta tweeted: “Details of [FBI Atlanta] and [the Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia] role in take-down of largest online “Dark Market” Alphabay.”
Their role, according to the NGDA press release, involved the 2016 arrest of IcyEagle—a former Alphabay vendor—along with someone in an ongoing investigation. “Two matters investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta and the FBI-Atlanta Field Division have connections to the international investigation into AlphaBay announced today,” the announcement explained. Regarding the unidentified party, officials said effectively nothing. With apparent brevity in mind, the NGDA wrote that “an investigation conducted in Atlanta has identified an AlphaBay staffer living in the United States.” Nothing ever could be said as the “investigation is ongoing.”
IcyEagle’s contribution is unknown. He is currently in prison. IcyEagle aka Aaron Glende bought drugs online and sold stolen SunTrust logins on Alphabay. He was arrested and charged with bank fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
U.S. Attorney John Horn commented on the topic:
“Glende sold stolen bank account information and other login credentials on AlphaBay, a ‘Dark Web’ website devoted to the anonymous sale of criminal goods and services, including weapons, stolen credit cards, and illegal narcotics.”
There exist several options for the identity of the Atlanta investigation into an Alphabay staffer. In the Verified Complaint for Forfeiture, the federal government acknowledges numerous members of Alphabay staff. First and foremost, DeSnake is missing.
DeSnake is unlikely to be the identified Alphabay staff.
- DeSnake, in the complaint, was the highest ranking Alphabay staff, save for alpha02. LE is not likely to let Alphabay’s “Security Administrator” escape. Especially one who “appears to have administrative-level access.”
- Unlike terminology used for other staff, law enforcement used “appears” and “seems” when referring to DeSnake, indicating that LE does not have the full picture.
- A Security Administrator, one would hope, practiced more thorough security measures than moderators. This—after seeing Cazes get busted via a Hotmail email address—is a shaky bet to place.
Many former moderators still exist, although some had retired long ago: Raspi, Disc0, Russ0, BigMuscles, and the retired MountainHigh9 (And a few more). One public relations manager still existed on Reddit, even after Alphabay went down. Trappy. Incidentally, he is the only public relations manager and is one of the few with American-ized English. (In contrast, BigMuscles is not likely to be the Atlanta suspect; he had several language barrier issues and English was far from his first language). And then there is the ScamWatch staff: Vaas and Onionhood. Disc0 was doxed (authenticity unknown) and the dox did not include Atlanta.
As to the identified American staff member: Trappy conducted a review of a US marijuana vendor several years ago and the vendor only shipped US domestic; on Reddit, he referred to the United States as “domestic;” he complained about USPS; and his English was better than the majority of the moderators. While there’s no telling if Trappy is the US staff in question, he is a potential match. He might not even have a connection to Georgia FBI’s investigation. After all, Georgia officials thought IcyEagle contributed to the Alphabay takedown.