Earlier this month, the federal investigation and apprehension of a New Hampshire couple who have been linked to dark web-facilitated drug dealings was confirmed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The pair has been placed under police custody after law enforcement agents stormed their hotel room on Executive Park Drive, New Hampshire, and impounded on-site drugs.
This case adds up to a wealth of incidents regarding U.S. drug-related arrests that have occurred in the past year.
According to court papers, the raid is considered to be one of the outcomes of an ongoing FBI operation to smoke out key players in the online drug distribution conspiracy.
Austin Love, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, intimated that Brian Knight and Tina Kearns, the couple, used the popular Dream Market to trade heroin and MDMA.
An Ingenious Drug Operation
The U.S. District Court in Concord learnt that detectives surveilled the Dream Market platform since January 2018 to track down the main suspect.
For a long time, the operation adopted a wide scope before zeroing in on a vendor named 5th Avenue.
The DEA agent’s recent account provided that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) was instrumental in establishing the particulars of the case.
This stems from the fact that the suspected darknet market vendor used the mail service to obliviously send drugs to law enforcement agents.
In July, agents disguised as buyers made a heroin purchase from the said vendor using Bitcoin.
The package was shipped to the officers stationed in Florida via mail. Knight, alias 5th Avenue, is reported to have visited the USPS website to buy the Priority Mail label, which helped him to send the package.
Officials from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service managed to trace the IP address of their website’s visitor, which led investigators to the hotel in New Hampshire.
Furthermore, it was established that Kearns had been renting this hotel room while her partner, Knight, used his debit card to organize the drug shipment.
Law enforcement agents managed to trace the debit card used by 5th Avenue to make payments for the shipment.
As it turned out, this aspect was unraveled by a critical analysis of the path taken by the parcel’s tracking number.
In the investigation, Merrimack police had gotten tip-offs regarding the dark web-savvy vendor who advertised his drug business online.
Key snippets of the tip off revealed that Knight informed his would-be clients about his intentions to use the mail service to deliver drug packages.
The Arrest and Proceedings
At the climax of the investigation, federal agents raided the couple’s hotel room on August 27 and apprehended Kearns on charges of drug conspiracy.
Knight, on the other hand, was busted thanks to an existing arrest warrant that was provided by a Florida court.
During the arrest, agents impounded heroin, postage items and drug-related paraphernalia, court records said.
Finally, the New Hampshire case became unsealed in Concord while Knight was extradited to Florida and detained, pending trial.
The U.S. Postal Service – an Ideal Drug Mule for Dark Web Dealers?
Arguably, one might assume that darknet drug sellers employ aspects of covert delivery methods to deliver packages from one location to the next.
Maybe you would think that the masters of darknet crime are stealth freaks, using contemporary methods of shipping drugs to clients – probably a military grade drone that drops packages in clandestine destinations under the cover of darkness.
Well, this is never the case.
Dark web drug dealers have been using the U.S. Postal Service to send illicit packages to clients across the country.
Like many other darknet-related drug cases, the USPS serves as a link between the online platform of darknet activity and the physical world, which is an important ingredient in the drug distribution network.
But why is the public mail service so attractive to the inhabitants of the dark web?
Put simply, the U.S. constitutional right to privacy, as provided by the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, complicates the procedure of searching and seizing letters.
Concerning this aspect, such actions against letters and parcels can only be supported by search warrants.
The darknet drug lords understand this and have managed to duck law enforcement authorities by sending stealthy packages and disrupting their own digital footprints.
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