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07.03.18 Dark Web and Cybercrime Roundup


Georgia Man Made Furanyl Fentanyl Pills in U-Haul Storage Unit

A judge in Gwinnett County, Georgia, sentenced a 32-year-old man to 44 years in prison for producing counterfeit oxycodone pills. As usual, the counterfeits contained a fentanyl analogue instead of actual oxycodone. Dealers who sell drugs laced with fentanyl or fentanyl analogues often face lengthy prison sentences if apprehended. However, this case head an element not seen in many fentanyl distribution cases.

During 44-year-old Christopher Ramone West’s stretch as a counterfeit oxycodone producer, furanyl fentanyl never reached the scheduling by the DEA. The fentanyl analogue was unscheduled in Georgia as well. On paper, the drug was legal. It remained that way until well after West’s January 2017 arrest. However, the blatant similarities between furanyl fentanyl and fentanyl made an easy Analogue Act case for prosecutors.

The Department of Homeland Security started the investigation after intercepting several packages of materials used in a pill pressing operation. The DHS then notified the Gwinnett Metro Task Force. In Gwinnett, law enforcement raided West’s home and surprisingly discovered no evidence that could hold up in court. They later found a storage unit that West had rented. The unit served as the base of operations for West; he kept his drugs, pill presses, pressing materials, and cash in the unit.

Judge Kathryn Schrader sentenced the man to 44 years in prison.

Inmates Ran a Child Porn Network in Prison, FBI Says

Federal authorities arrested three inmates at New Jersey’s Federal Correctional Institution-Fort Dix for participating in a widespread ‘child pornography’ enterprise in prison. All three men had originally landed in prison for possession of child abuse pictures and videos. Their possession did not end in the outside world, however.

52-year-old William H. Noble, 31-year-old Jacob S. Good, and 38-year-old Charles Wesley Bush are only three of the suspects allegedly involved in the network of pedophiles who sell micro SD cards and hourly cell phone rentals to other pedophiles the federal prison. With the help of their own network of informants inside the prison, the FBI gathered evidence and documented even the most intricate details during the investigation.

They learned that numerous inmates had been allowing other inmates to ‘rent’ their illegally obtained cell phones for the purpose of watching and downloading child abuse pictures. And instead of sharing a phone’s storage with other inmates, many of the pedophiles bought their own micro SD cards from the phone owners. Some had loaded their cards to the brim. Some openly talked about their need keep the SD card with them even after prison.

The men now face conspiracy to distribute child pornography charges, child pornography transportation charges, possession of child pornography on federal property charges, one count of intent to view child pornography on federal property, and numerous possession charges.

Pennsylvania Man Sentenced to Prison for ‘Illegally’ Selling Bitcoin

A 24-year-old Pennsylvania man will be spending one year and one day in prison for illegally selling $1.5 million in Bitcoin between 2015 and 2016. Eldon Stone Ross, the Pennsylvania man headed to prison in this bizarre case, earned only $40,000 during the time he spent trading cryptocurrency. In addition to the prison sentence that disqualified Ross from serving his sentence in a county jail by lasting one day more than a year, the government will be taking the $40,000 Ross earned.

According to assistant U.S. Attorney Bert Glenn—the prosecutor of the case—the courts in Pennsylvania do not see many of these cases. “It’s the first I’ve done here,” he said. Ross was charged and convicted of conducting an unlicensed money transmitting business. The reasoning? Ross never reported the transactions to the government.

With that said, Ross admitted to exchanging Bitcoin for cash as far back as 2014. A quick Google search revealed that the authorities picked him up in 2014 for distribution of heroin, ecstasy, marijuana, and prescription pills. He avoided serious penalties in the drug trafficking case. But investigators clearly had no intention of letting Ross off easy. Is there Bitcoin case connected to the drug distribution? Or simply vindictive federal authorities?

Raleigh Man Pleaded Guilty to Darknet Xanax Distribution

25-year-old Matthew Lee Yensan, a resident of Raleigh, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to charges connected to the raid on his alprazolam pressing operation in September 2017. Like the ‘storage unit presser’ from Gwinnett County, Georgia, Yensan pressed fake Xanax bars in a storage unit. According to court documents, the DEA received a so-called ‘tip’ that set the investigation into motion.

The tipster told the DEA that Yensan pressed fake Xanax bars with alprazolam powder purchased from overseas. The tipster also told the DEA that the Raleigh man had been selling the bars on the darknet. Although the tipster’s identity remains unknown to the general public, Yensan will certainly know his or her identity. The informant claimed he or she had helped Yenson move pill presses into the storage unit in North Carolina.

The DEA raided Yensan’s home and the storage unit he had been renting. They seized nearly one million split dollars between cash and bitcoin; hundreds of pounds of alprazolam powder; an unknown number of pressed pills; and a number of firearms.

Bill Gates Said Bitcoin has “Caused Deaths in a Fairly Direct Way”

Many people responded in surprise when Microsoft Corporation chief founder Bill Gates’ voiced his clear opposition for bitcoin in a recent Reddit Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). Right now, searching “Bill Gates” in Google news pulls up dozens of mainstream articles about Gates’ view on cryptocurrencies. While many are simply looking to cash in on the profitable clicks generated by crypto articles, some publications have explicitly said Gates’ was wrong.

The Microsoft billionaire’s most vivid comment during the AMA:

“The key feature of crypto currencies is their obscurity. I don’t think this is a good thing. The Government’s capability to find money laundering and tax evasion and terrorist funding is a good thing. Right now crypto currencies are used for buying fentanyl and other drugs so it is a rare technology that has caused deaths in a fairly direct way. I think the speculative wave around ICOs and crypto currencies is super risky for those who go long.”

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