Authorities say that three men were taken into custody on drug distribution and money laundering charges. They were charged in a Los Angeles court but were originally taken into custody in Germany in April. The charges stem form their purported roles in running Wall Street Market (WSM), which sold narcotics and other counterfeit items. WSM also sold malicious computer hacking software and stolen data. Authorities say that another man faces similar charges for acting as a moderator on the site.
He was arraigned in a Sacramento court, and as a moderator, he helped handle disputes that arose between buyers and sellers. The Department of Justice said that its work on the case showed that it was getting better at finding criminals regardless of where they tried to hide. Authorities say that WSM operated on what is referred to as the dark net using a program called Tor.
Individuals would pay for their illicit goods using Bitcoin, and those who ran the site would receive commissions of up to 6%. The German nationals who were taken into custody sent $11 million into their personal bank accounts. WSM sold goods to customers in the United States as well as to customers in countries such as Germany and Australia.
Individuals who are charged with drug distribution may face many years in prison. However, an attorney may show that a defendant was not involved in selling or trafficking them. An attorney may assert that an individual was charged based on mistaken identity or other errors during an investigation. This may be enough to obtain an acquittal or to have a case thrown out before it gets to a jury.
Source: NBC Los Angeles, "Three Accused of Operating a Hidden Marketplace for Drugs, Counterfeit Items", May 3, 2019