27.05.18 Darknet and Cybercrime Roundup
Over the course of one week, numerous darknet drug buyers either landed in police custody or pleaded guilty to drug charges. Few darknet drug dealers made the news. The most recurring event, though, was the sentencing of pedophiles connected to darknet child abuse sites.
Bitcoin: Man Sentenced for Running an Illegal Bitcoin Exchange
Louis Ong, 37, will be spending the next 20 days in jail and forfeiting $1 million in Bitcoin and cash to the US government after being convicted of illegally running a Bitcoin exchange. Technically, according to U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes, Ong pleaded guilty to “Operating an Unlicensed Money Transmission Business.” Federal agents arrested Ong in July 2017.
Ong laundered millions of dollars for undercover federal agents who had, for lack of a better term, hired Ong for an indefinite period of time. The agents attempted to make Ong believe they were drug vendors. Ong explained that he head no interest in knowing the origin of the money. The undercover federal agents made Ong register as a licensed money exchanger with FinCEN. Agents then arrested Ong for violating FinCEN’s “Know Your Customer” (KYC) and “Anti-Money Laundering” (AML) laws.
Child Abuse Sentence: “Darknet Child Abuse Site Member Sentenced to 60 Months”
A secret investigation into an undisclosed darknet child abuse site conducted by Homeland Security Investigations netted, so far, at least one successful arrest and Cochin. In the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema sentenced a local man to five years in prison for accessing and viewing thousands of files on the child abuse site known only as “Bulletin Board A.”
Homeland Security Investigations investigated “Bulletin Board A” as early as September 2015. Agents at the Cyber Crimes Center’s Child Exploitation Investigations Unit discovered the, court documents revealed. The authorities, for the usual reasons, left anything informative out of the court documents accessible by the general public. So, unlike the Playpen investigation, we have no real information as to the steps taken in the identification of the recently sentenced Purcellville man.
Child Abuse Sentence: Grandfather of 12 Sentenced in Operation Pacifier Case
A federal judge in Massachusetts sentenced a 76-year-old to eight years in prison for using the darknet child abuse site Playpen and downloading hundreds of pictures and videos. Edward F. Dupont, the now-convicted pedophile, made headlines as the “pedophile with 12 grandchildren.”
Of course, during the sentencing hearing, Dupont told Judge Mark Mastroianni that he had never “acted inappropriately” or abused any of his four children or 12 grandchildren. The prosecution preyed on his status as a family man and pushed for a sentence that would have effectively served as a life sentence for the grandfather. The defense argued for a lighter sentence that accounted for the man’s age. Judge Mastroianni agreed and sentenced the man to eight years in prison.
Child Abuse Sentence: Irish Student Jailed 15 Months for Possessing Child Porn
Officials at a Dublin Circuit Court sentenced Conor Emmet, 20, to 15 months in jail for possessing 5,919 child abuse images and 328 similar videos downloaded from the darknet child abuse forum “Playpen.” Emmet pleaded guilty earlier this month. His defense explained that since his arrest on May 17, 2016, Emmet attended and completed a program at something described as a “support group.” Presumably not a group for child abuse victims.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had identified the young man during Operation Pacifier. They sent the details to Europol. Europol, in turn, sent the information to the Gardaí’s Cyber Crime Bureau. The Gardaí raided Emmet’s Dublin home in 2016 and found evidence that he had accessed Playpen and that he had downloaded thousands of pictures and videos. Emmet helped the authorities throughout the investigation and cooperated fully with their requests. His age, program completion, and cooperative attitude likely earned him the relatively short period of incarceration.
Child Abuse Sentence: Ex-Cop Sentenced for Abusing His Own Granddaughter
A former Victorian policeman had abused his granddaughter and had actively used darknet child abuse forums, a county court in Australia heard at a recent hearing. Authorities had identified the man as a user of “The Love Zone.” On the darknet forum, the former cop uploaded pictures of his granddaughter and wrote about what he had done to her. Due to the secretive nature of Taskforce Argos operations, the pedophile had no clue Australian law enforcement had secretly taken control of the forum.
Taskforce Argos agents actually spoke with the then-cop on the forum. Although he, like the majority of the forum’s users, had no idea law enforcement had filled the positions of the ranking admins. County Court Judge Jane Campton sentenced the man to roughly four years in prison.
Drug Dealers: Three College Students Busted for Drug Distribution
Law enforcement in Illinois arrested three students responsible for operating what the police described as a “Walmart of drugs.” The students, according to a law enforcement officer involved in the investigation, had been buying large quantities of drugs from darknet markets and reselling them to dealers and other students at the Western Illinois University.
Zachary Dean Barnettgim, 18, William Carter Hironimus-Wendt, 19, and Jacob Cole Nelson, 22, had been on law enforcement’s radar for a significant period of time before United States Postal Inspectors lucked out on a package interception and connected it to the trio.
Drug Dealers: Almost Six Years in Prison for Fake Oxycodone Dealer
U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier, at a federal district court in South Dakota, sentenced a 21-year-old for ordering counterfeit oxycodone from a darknet vendor and then reselling the pills to people living in South Dakota. Jacob Hubbs, the defendant, will spend six years in prison for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl—a charge he pleaded guilty to in February, 2018.
An unusual number of law enforcement agencies assisted in the takedown of the dealer. And so far, the details of the investigation have remained sealed.