The dark web has proven that it can be used by anyone for facilitating the occurrence of one or even multiple illegal activities.
And in the process of aiding a criminal activity, the party involved becomes part of the crime irrespective of the role they play.
In Pikesville, Maryland, this statement holds water in the case of 32-year-old Cory Skinner, a former employee of the postal service who has pleaded guilty to aiding in the trafficking and distribution of opioids, heroin and cocaine ordered from the dark web.
How Authorities Began Investigations
According to a Department of Justice press release, the undertakings of Skinner came to the attention of law enforcement personnel while they were conducting investigations into the death of a police officer from the University of Arkansas.
During the investigations, the local police stumbled upon an open Priority Mail Package that was shipped from Baltimore. Further analysis of the package led the officers to other packages scheduled for shipment to Arizona and North Carolina.
It became apparent that the goods headed for North Carolina contained drugs, which prompted the officers to investigate the matter.
They traced the owner who was then questioned, and it was revealed that the package, which contained 2.8 grams of heroin, was bought on Dream Market from a vendor known as DoggFood. The payments were made via Bitcoin, which is currently the most preferred cryptocurrency in darknet markets.
The other package destined for Arizona contained a particular type of opioid known as buprenorphine.
The Arrest of the Former Postal Employee
Since it was necessary for the authorities to know how the packages were sent to the owner, they took them for fingerprint examination, which matched that of Skinner.
It then became apparent that from the beginning of the last quarter of 2017 to January 2018, Skinner was responsible for the distribution of drugs in small quantities to different persons.
Further revelations indicate that the Postal Search Department in Maryland intercepted over 20 packages which were sent by Skinner. They contained either cocaine, heroin or buprenorphine.
Skinner would employ rather cunning and dubious tactics since he mainly approached those who he deemed either physical or mentally handicapped and by using persuasive tactics, he would tell them to drop off the package that contained drugs at specific points in July and August 2017.
Prosecutors further said that by the beginning of this year, the estimated amount of cocaine, heroin and buprenorphine handled by Skinner in total are 77.7 grams, 290.5 grams and 216 units respectively—all of which he sold on Dream Market under the alias DoggFood.
A spot check by Dark Web News on Dream Market for the vendor account yielded no results, a clear indication that the account is no longer active.
A raid on Skinner’s residence by the officers in charge of the operation led to a shocking discovery and confiscation of some items.
Among the things found and may be used against him are a laptop, over $6,000 USD in cash, a weighing scale, firearms, and last but not least, stamps and postal addresses.
Skinner’s sentencing is scheduled to take place later this year on August 13. He faces up to 40 years in prison.
Those Dealing in Darknet-Related Activities Under Close Watch
Given the illegal nature of the activities darknet vendors are engaging in, law enforcement personnel are always on the watch, taking the slightest of clues that will lead them toward the target.
The reason is that something minor may turn out as a starting point for the authorities, as is the case with Skinner where something seemingly irrelevant led to his later arrest.
Over the years, not only vendors but also market admins and those who buy from darknet markets have faced arrests and prosecution for their involvement in activities on the dark web.
And depending on the crime, the punishment may vary from minor to severe with the most common being fines and jail sentences.
Even though it is difficult to find those involved due to the use of anonymity tools, with time, events continue unfolding and when everything seems to be going just fine, authorities appear from nowhere with enough evidence to apprehend the culprit.
From the sequence of events that have been taking place for the past years, it is conclusive to say that irrespective of the activity and how one conducts their operations, their privacy and safety is not guaranteed.
The reason is that law enforcement personnel are out there employing tactics which they use to curb the crime brought about by the dark web. More so, they are working around the clock to devise new means of ensuring their operations turn out successfully.
Lessons from Cory Skinner
Further use of cryptocurrency made him get paid anonymously.
In normal circumstances, one would think that this is enough to guarantee someone of their safety.
But it is not the case for Skinner because the use of fingerprint technologies led to his identification and ultimate arrest.
Technically, the same can happen to anyone irrespective of their operation, thus the reason why some activities require extra caution.