Dark web marketplace moderator Bryan Connor Herrell pleaded guilty in the United States to conspiring to engage in a racketeer-influenced corrupt organization.
While the infamous Silk Road made a lot more headlines, another dark web market place had many more members and a wider reach. It was called AlphaBay, and it was shut down in July 2017.
Criminals use such marketplaces to buy and sell illegal products, such as drugs, counterfeit goods, computer hacking tools, firearms, fraudulent services, and stolen and fraudulent identification documents and access devices. In just three years of operations, from 2014 to 2017, criminals transacted an estimated $1 billion.
While the founder of AlphaBay, Alexandre Cazes, is dead, Herrell was in a position of power within the organization. As a moderator, Herrell was responsible for settling disputes between users, and the Department of Justice documents says that it was involved in over 20,000 such disputes.
“On AlphaBay, vendors and purchasers engaged in hundreds of thousands of illicit transactions for guns, drugs, stolen identity information, credit card numbers and other illegal items,” reads the DOJ announcement. “At the time, AlphaBay was considered to be the world’s largest online drug marketplace.”
Herrell now faces up to 20 years in prison, but the sentence will be determined by the court. Also, just last week, Aleksei Burkov, 29, pleaded guilty in the United States to money laundering, device fraud and other crimes, after he admitted running a marketplace for stolen credit card data called Cardplanet.