An ex-moderator from the now-defunct AlphaBay marketplace has been sentenced. The Colorado man will be serving 11 years of his life in prison for being involved with the market.
The U.S. Department of Justice issued a press statement regarding the ex-moderator. Authorities revealed that they found Bryan Connor Herrell was 26 during the sentencing. The sentence was handed to him by U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd.
Bryan first faced charges in June of 2019. He was played a part in enabling the sale of illicit goods and other services on AlphaBay market. The defendant plead guilty in January 2020 in a California court.
Reports state that the Department of Justice planned to proceed with the hearing in May. After the global Coronavirus pandemic, and government-sanctioned restrictions Bryan's hearing was delayed.
Finding a Moderator
U.S law enforcement released a statement. It claims Herrell was hired to become a moderator on the platform. The illicit platform was hosted on the dark-net and allowed the sale of illicit goods. The sales were enabled by cryptocurrency, keeping users anonymous.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of transactions took place on AlphaBay. The market was thriving from the sale of illegal products and services. Items such as narcotics, weapons, stolen identities allowed the dark-net to grow tremendously. Soon after it's launch the market became the worlds largest dark-net community.
Investigations found that moderators like Herrell's enabled AlphaBay to operate round the clock. The moderators work was to settle disputes between buyers and vendors. Additionally, moderators act as "scam watchers" who search for fraud targeting AlphaBay users. Herrell's used the monikers “Penissmith” and “Botah” to serve his tole on the dark-net. He was earning lots of money in bitcoin.
The initial crackdown against the masterminds behind the market lead to Herrell's arrest. AlphaBay closed on July 4th of 2017 without notice. The alleged exit scam scenario has become very common on the dark-net.
Shortly after the alleged exit scam, reports claiming authorities were cracking down on the market appeared. Some claimed the moderators decided to shut down the market after the arrest of the founder. Law enforcement agencies from U.S., Canada and Thailand worked together to arrest Alexandre Cazes.
The reports ended up being true. Shorty after AlphaBay went offline, the Royal Thai police and the FBI and the DEA acted on an arrest warrant. The arrest warrant was issued against Cazes, the founder of AlphaBay.
While police raided Alexandre's residence in Bangkok, they found his laptop. His laptop was both left unencrypted and unlocked which yielded even more evidence. After an examination of the computer, text files containing passwords for AlphaBay's servers. Other credentials associated with the market were also found.
Thai police found Cazes dead in his cell. The suspect reportedly committed suicide to avoid sentencing. The indictment case against him was dismissed. From that point, law enforcement embarked on a mission to hunt the rest AlphaBay facilitators.
A big achievement for Law Enforcement
Acting Assistant Attorney General Rabbitt reflected on the latest developments in law enforcement. He stated that the latest sentencing shows the governments commitment to dismantle the dark-net. He also mentioned that the U.S. government is committed to tackle transnational crime.
U.S. law enforcement is consistently working with Europe to target criminal networks. The joint operations between law enforcement plans to tackle more criminals operating online.
Attorney Scott also made some remarks on the latest sentencing. He intimated that the latest sentencing of AlphaBay moderator goes to show that you can't hide behind the dark-net.