‘Criminals cannot hide behind technology to break the law,’ a US attorney stated.
One of the men responsible for moderating content on the now defunct AlphaBay darknet market will be in jail until 2031.
According to a Sept. 1 statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, 26-year-old Bryan Connor Herrell was sentenced to 11 years in prison for conspiring to engage in a racketeer-influenced corrupt organization, for his role as a moderator on AlphaBay. The platform was one of the largest online marketplaces for drugs as well as guns, credit card data, and other illegal items, paid for with cryptocurrency.
“This sentence serves as further proof that criminals cannot hide behind technology to break the law,” said U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott.
“Operating behind the veil of the darknet may seem to offer shelter from criminal investigations, but people should think twice before ordering or selling drugs online — you will be caught.”
Herrell — who went by usernames “Penissmith” and “Botah” — was paid in Bitcoin (BTC) to handle more than 20,000 disputes between vendors and buyers on AlphaBay. He also acted as a “scam watcher” monitoring the marketplace for attempts to defraud users.
The moderator was originally charged for his role with AlphaBay in June 2019 in the Eastern District of California before pleading guilty in January. His sentencing was scheduled to take place in May, but was delayed until recently, presumably due to restrictions caused by the current pandemic.
Along with Silk Road, AlphaBay was one of the largest online black markets before it was shut down by U.S. authorities in July 2017. The site operated for almost three years and had more than 400,000 users at the time of its demise.
Alexandre Cazes, the founder and operator of the site, was indicted in the United States and taken into custody by the Royal Thai Police, as he resided in Bangkok at the time. However, Cazes was later found dead in his Thailand jail cell, suspected of committing suicide.
Individuals associated with the darknet marketplace continue to face prosecution based on data recovered from Cazes’ laptop and the company’s servers, which were seized in Canada. In August, two Costa Rican residents were charged for selling $270 million worth of drugs on Silk Road and AlphaBay.