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DEA drug smuggling sting nabs online drug dealers

A multi-agency, multi-country law enforcement effort successfully broke-up and shut down the “Farmer’s Market” website. The international online drug trafficking organization sold a wide variety of illicit narcotics to U.S. and international customers.

Authorities say the “secret” online website moved illegal drugs using the postal service to more than 3,000 customers in 50 states and 24 countries. This week authorities arrested eight people in connection with the criminal drug business; all face federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges.

The ringleader, Marc Willems, a resident of the Netherlands, was arrested in his home and charged as the lead defendant. Colombian authorities tracked down and arrested U.S. citizen Michael Evron who was in the process of fleeing the country before Bogota Police captured him. The remaining suspects, Jonathan Colbeck, Brian Colbeck, Ryan Rawls, Jonathan Dugan, George Matzek and Charles Bigras were apprehended at their respective homes in Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Florida.

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The Los Angeles Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) field office led the two-year, multi-agency “Operation Adam Bomb” investigation.

“The drug trafficking organization targeted in ‘Operation Adam Bomb’ was distributing dangerous and addictive drugs to every corner of the world, and trying to hide their activities through the use of advanced anonymizing on-line technology,” said Briane M. Grey, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge. “Today’s action should send a clear message to organizations that are using technology to conduct criminal activity that the DEA and our law enforcement partners will track them down and bring them to justice.”

Smuggling drugs in a global market require law enforcement agencies partner with foreign organizations to keep one step ahead of criminals and shut down their unlawful entities.

“Illegal narcotics trafficking now reaches every corner of our world, including our home computers,” said U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California André Birotte Jr., whose office is handling the prosecution of the case. “But the reach of the law is just as long, and the Department of Justice will work with its partners, both nationally and internationally, to bring narcotics traffickers to justice, wherever they may hide. Working together, we want to make the Internet a safe and secure marketplace by rooting out and prosecuting those persons who seek to illegally pervert and exploit that market.”

All the defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances worldwide. The online marketplace allowed independent contractors to anonymously advertise and sell illegal drugs on public airwaves. The unsealed indictment revealed that online business owners used online forums to sell their controlled substances. The “Farmer’s Market” also offered a customer service program as well as various payment options for their illegal drug-seeking consumers. The indictment alleges that customers and operators screened suppliers to guarantee delivery of drugs and even collected a commission from the transactions.

This marketplace offered a wide variety of controlled substances including, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), MDMA (ecstasy), fentanyl, mescaline, ketamine, DMT and high-end marijuana. The DEA said the online drug dealers handled approximately 5,256 online orders and earned $1,041,244 during January 2007 and October 2009.

The multi-agency task force said the drug dealers used a TOR program with encrypted connections that can be downloaded on most home computers. “TOR allows websites and electronic mail communications to mask IP address information by spreading communications over a series of computers, or relays, located throughout the world,” the DEA explained. “The online marketplaces have accepted Western Union, Pecunix, PayPal, I-Golder, and cash as payment for illegal drug sales.”

Federal authorities said, “All the defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life, and money laundering conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.”

The lead defendants Willems, Evron, Jonathan Colbeck, Brian Colbeck, and Rawls are also charged with the distribution of LSD, which carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life. Finally, “defendants Willems and Evron are charged with participating in a continuing criminal enterprise, which carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment for life and a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence.”

Authorities arrested seven other individuals for their connection to the illegal drug website.

The DEA received substantial assistance from the Netherlands Regional Police Force Flevoland, the International Legal Assistance Center North East Netherlands prosecutors, U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the DEA’s country office in Hague, and the U.S. Postal Service.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Continue reading on Examiner.com DEA drug smuggling sting nabs online drug dealers – San Diego County Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/article/dea-drug-smuggling-sting-nabs-online-drug-dealers#ixzz1sVQfJmur

Border Patrol confiscates $1 million in crystal meth at checkpoint

Border Patrol agents assigned to an Interstate 15 checkpoint north of San Diego intercepted two smuggling endeavors this week that resulted in the seizure of 51.25 pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $1 million.

First, Border Patrol agents stopped a 40-year-old male U.S citizen at the I-15 checkpoint. After agents detected the man’s nervous demeanor the Border Patrol K-9 team to complete an inspection of the vehicle.

According to a BP press statement from Michael Jimenez, “The canine team alerted to the vehicle. A subsequent vehicle search revealed 31 bundles of methamphetamine hidden in the rear quarter panels. The seized narcotics weighed more than 38 pounds with an estimated street value of $762,800.”

A second seizure at the I-15 checkpoint netted even more crystal methamphetamine. Agents stopped a Jeep Cherokee towing a Toyota Solara on a trailer. Border Patrol referred a 31-year-old male Mexican national driver to a secondary inspection area.

“Agents summoned a Border Patrol K-9 team to perform a cursory inspection of the vehicles. The canine team alerted to one of the vehicles,” a press release said. “A subsequent search of the vehicles revealed 25 bundles of methamphetamine hidden in the gas tank of the towed vehicle. The narcotics seizure weighed more than 13 pounds with an estimated street value of $262,200.”

In both cases, the suspected drug smugglers and narcotics were handed over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for further investigation. The U.S. Border Patrol confiscated all three vehicles and the trailer.

To report suspicious activity to the Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Continue reading on Examiner.com Border Patrol confiscates $1 million in crystal meth at checkpoint – San Diego County Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/border-patrol-confiscates-1-million-crystal-meth-at-checkpoint#ixzz1q0UUXcQX

Mexican panga with illegal immigrants and 2,500 pounds of pot snagged

A predawn interdiction on Wednesday led to the capture of 10 illegal immigrants caught with 2,500 pounds of marijuana on a Mexican “panga” boat along the Ventura County coast just north of Los Angeles.

California National Guardsmen, working in support of the Central California Maritime Agency Coordination Group, initially spotted the vessel offshore and relayed the information to the U.S. Border Patrol. The agents discovered a 27-foot boat loaded with several bales of marijuana. In addition to the marijuana, authorities also seized two vehicles linked to the smugglers.

“This interdiction illustrates our ability to analyze information and execute a collaborative operational plan with our partners to deploy a rapid response to mitigate this threat,” said Justin Delatorre, acting assistant chief patrol agent with San Diego Sector Border Patrol.

Agents said four suspects arrived on the panga boat and were immediately taken into custody. An additional six were arrested on the beach landing area. Moving forward Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) will further investigate the maritime smuggling attempt.

“This interdiction clearly shows our joint efforts to target this smuggling activity is having an impact,” explained Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in Los Angeles. “Today’s enforcement action should send a strong message to the criminal organizations in Mexico responsible for these incidents in Southern California that we’ve got them in our cross-hairs.”

The apprehension of the maritime marijuana smuggling crew displays the coordination of multi-agencies interdiction of illicit drugs along California’s long coastline.

“Close collaboration with our partners has helped us ensure the success of this operation so we can uniformly keep our streets safe from illegal drugs,” said Capt. Roger Laferriere, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach. “We look forward to continued success through close partnerships.”

The Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said the partnership with federal agencies leads to safer streets for residents along the coast. “We look forward to continuing to work together to keep our county safe.”

Due to the escalating number of maritime smuggling incidents along the coastline, authorities have intensified efforts to target the illegal activity by expanding the use of marine patrols, land-based surveillance with the collaboration of Mexico.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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