Ecstasy, Marijuana, LSD Sold at Online 'Farmers Market:' Feds in L.A. Move In For The Bust
You'd say, Right on! (We know our readers).
Federal authorities, unfortunately, weren't as gung-ho about this particular operation, and today they announced that the so-called Farmers Market online drug bazaar has been taken down:
Gymeka Williams, a U.S. Attorney's Office spokesperson in L.A., tells the Weekly that the ring was taken down with the help of an undercover agent who "infiltrated" the operation in Los Angeles.
Eight people involved in the ring were arrested yesterday and today based on federal charges that they sold more than $1 million worth of illicit drugs through the online system to 3,000 customers in 34 countries and 50 states.
None of the defendants is based in L.A.
As part of the bust, feds seized "hashish, LSD and MDMA, as well as an indoor psychotropic mushroom grow, and 3 indoor marijuana grows," according to a U.S. Attorney's Office statement.
Authorities say the ring accepted PayPal for purchases (was there a customer satisfaction guarantee too?).
A two-year federal investigation brought down the scheme, which the statement alleges went like this:
The on-line marketplaces handled all communications between the sources of supply and customers. For these services, the operators charged a commission based upon the value of the order. Customers of the on-line marketplaces have been identified in every one of the states of the United States and the District of Columbia and in approximately 34 other countries ... The on-line marketplaces have multiple sources of supply offering various controlled substances, including LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), fentanyl, mescaline, ketamine, DMT, and high-end marijuana. Between January 2007 and October 2009 alone, defendants ... processed approximately 5,256 on-line orders for controlled substances valued at approximately $1,041,244 via the on-line controlled substances marketplaces.
Feds say the crew operated on the TOR network, which promises anonymity (guess not) through "a circuit of encrypted connections," according to the U.S. Attorney's statement.
Each of the defendants faces a charge of conspiracy to distribute controlled substance, which carries a possible life sentence, and money laundering, a 20-year offense.
United States Attorney André Birotte Jr., the federal government's top prosecutor in L.A:
Illegal narcotics trafficking now reaches every corner of our world, including our home computers. But the reach of the law is just as long ...
Read the federal indictment: