A 40-year-old man in Merced, California has just pleaded guilty on account of crimes he committed selling drugs on the dark web.
David Ryan Burchard used to go by the name of “Caliconnect” on various darknet markets while selling the drugs online.
Silk Road, Agora, AlphaBay and Abraxas are some of the known markets used by Burchard for selling drugs.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy regarding the distribution and possession with intent to sell the drugs, according to investigators working on the case.
Burchard’s sentencing is set to occur on October 30, when he faces a minimum of 20 years in prison along with a hefty fine of $1 million.
Burchard Utilized Post Offices to Distribute Drugs
According to Burchard, he had taken in orders for drugs such as cocaine and marijuana on various dark web sites and used post offices spread across both Merced and Fresno counties (in California) to mail products to his customers.
The payment for these drugs was mainly transacted through Bitcoins and not conventional cash.
According to law enforcement, Burchard’s small operation was worth a staggering $1.4 million up until he was caught.
Federal authorities first came across his operation after discovering that he was one of the Silk Road’s largest vendors.
But after the Silk Road was shut down in 2013 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Burchard simply moved his drug operation to other darknet markets, such as Agora and AlphaBay.
Background on the Dark Web’s Base of Criminals
The dark web offers several advantages to criminals for carrying out their illicit activities, due to its very nature.
Marketplaces on the dark web utilize networks that conceal the true location of the user’s IP address, making him/her invisible to anyone who is looking.
These websites only allow payments to be made through Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, due to their convenience.
The fact that crypto currencies like Bitcoin don’t require a third-party payment processor only helps in the anonymous nature criminals crave while performing their deeds.
Investigation Ends in Arrest
The operation that led to Burchard’s arrest was a joint venture by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, the U.S.’s Postal Inspection Service and the Fresno Police Department.
The legal case against Burchard would be led by none other than Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant Rabenn.
The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (or the OCDETF) also played a role in the case.
The organization’s objective is to perform multi-level, comprehensive crackdowns on major drug and money laundering operations.
Making Millions from Home
Burchard managed his drug business from the comfort of his own home.
Despite living with his wife and children, he was able to do everything from his computer.
The investigators were first alarmed when they realized that large sums of money were being deposited in Burchard’s bank account despite his lack of a job.
He had been jobless for more than seven years, but there was over a million dollars in his account.
His house had cost only $1,350 per month in rent payments, but both he and his wife were without jobs.
What eventually led law enforcement to his identity was an issue with his password.
Burchard had used the same password for his online business on the dark web, as well as other marketplace logins.
His password is now known to be “asshole209.”
According to the authorities, even if they hadn’t found out his password, it would have been easily discovered by any generic password cracking application.
The simplicity of his password led to his downfall, as it was merely a generic word combined with the area code for Merced, his hometown.
After his arrest, the authorities seized four of his vehicles, including a Jaguar and two Mercedes.
The Mercedes S63 alone costs more than $100,000 today.
Burchard had apparently trademarked the term “CALICONNECT” and didn’t even try to conceal his identity when he did so.
During the arrest, the police even found t-shirts branded with his trademark.