A dark web drug dealer has been sentenced to seventeen and a half years in prison on charges of selling dangerous narcotics via the dark web.
The 37-year-old Richard Castro from Florida pled guilty in 2019 to the charges levelled against him, including a count of the conspiracy to distribute and possess with an intention to distribute drugs.
Legally, the drug charge carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, and a maximum life sentence on conviction. In addition, the man was charged for money laundering, which disposes defendants to a maximum prison sentence of 20 years behind bars.
The convicted drug addict, who was also known by the nicknames Chems_usa, Chemical_usa and Jagger109 is reported to have been in charge of a drug operation that specialized in the darknet sale of fentanyl, a controlled substance that is said to be 50 times more potent than heroin, including Carfentanil that’s 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.
Authorities learnt that Castro used the online moniker Chemsusa to operate online accounts in the now-defunct Dream and AlphaBay markets, which included his money laundering engagement to mask the illicit origins of his economic returns.
Reportedly, the man’s drug operation had grown to be highly successful until the time of his arrest. Investigations revealed Castro’s popularity in the Dream Market where he boasted his completion of an excess of 3,200 transactions – the drug dealer’s AlphaBay transactions stood 1,800.
Apart from the defendant’s own account of his dealings, customer feedback confirmed the significance of Chemsusa’s business in the dark web as a number of users pointed out that the man supplied “extremely potent and definitely potent Carf” and one customer wrote “The Carfent is unbelievably well synthesized, keep up the amazing work.”
In terms of sales, the court heard that Castro’s dark web customers paid for the advertised products in cryptocurrency, mainly Bitcoin. The convict is reported to have transferred millions of dollars through a series of Bitcoin wallets, and he bought about 100 quadrillion Zimbabwe banknotes as part of his elaborate money laundering scheme.
The police operation that smoked out Castro’s illicit business is reported to have begun way back in December 2016, when an undercover law enforcement agent bought drugs from Chemsusa’s AlphaBay account.
The undercover agent made four separate orders from the dark web vendor, and confirmed the chemical authenticity of the supplied substance to be Carfentanil. The resultant transaction that led to the exchange between the two people provided an important basis for lifting the real identity behind the online profile.
On analysis, law enforcement managed to track the Bitcoin transactions linked to the purchases and discovered a Bitcoin wallet where Chemsusa deposited about $1.8 million – he had also withdrawn about $1.77 million from the same wallet.
According to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Chemsusa informed his customers in Dream Market that he would be transferring his shop off the dark web market and would be reviewing orders via encrypted email.
An undercover officer acquired the encrypted email address and placed other orders for illicit controlled substances, all of which culminated in a November 2018 search warrant that was issued against Castro’s home IP address.
It was then that the authorities established a link between Castro’s IP address to the Bitcoin wallet that had been associated with the Chemsusa dark web profile. In addition, the IP address was also linked to the email addresses used by the convict to vend the banned drugs.
In March 2019, Castro and a co-conspirator were apprehended and charged in court – his accomplice was sentenced to 151 months in prison.