The police in California have taken their fight against the dark web drug markets up a notch.
At the heart of this is the use of undercover tactics to capture the drug vendors.
With the new approach, the police efficaciously caught two dealers trading marijuana and cocaine via the dark web.
The dealers, operating under the name “CokeWave,” relied on several ploys to evade the police.
Using phony addresses such as “Marvel Hobbies,” the drug dealers managed to keep their logistics under the radar of law enforcement.
Nonetheless, a well-planned undercover operation by the feds based in Sacramento managed to unearth the endeavors of the vendors.
The recently established Northern California Illicit Digital Economy Task Force undertook the process.
The Undercover Operation
Following the upsurge in the sales of illegal products on the dark web including drugs, the police in Sacramento, California established a special task force to thwart the trend.
The first major operation of the task force entailed investigating two suspects, Deshari Saivohn Frederick and Eddy Steven Sandoval Lopez.
The investigations began as early as June. The complexity of the dark web transactions such as the use of Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies to pay for products forced the investigators to employ undercover tactics.
This approach offered them a better chance to arrest the drug dealers.
The feds started their undercover operation by placing an order for cocaine, with the quantity of the order being 14 grams.
They primarily targeted the CokeWave vendor site, which runs on the dark web.
Within a time span of a week and a half, the undercover feds received two packages from the vendors.
They came bearing one of the addresses of Arden Way department stores. The boxes received by the police contained white powder bundled in vacuum-sealed Mylar cases.
In the months that followed, the police place more orders for the drugs.
This time around they used surveillance cameras to monitor the individuals delivering the boxes.
These were chiefly the surveillance cameras installed in various post offices throughout Sacramento and the larger California region.
The cameras captured the number plate of the car used by the dealers to drop the drugs.
Further, the feds were able to get footage of the individuals as they moved the packages from the vehicle into the collection bins at a post office in West Sacramento.
The police managed to place a tracking device on the car.
It is through this that the investigators managed to trail and arrest the two suspects, Frederick and Sandoval Lopez.
The Action Taken Against the Suspects
Fredrick and Sandoval Lopez were arraigned in court by the police following their arrest. Currently, the two suspects are facing criminal charges.
The specific felony complaint they are facing is the conspiracy to distribute and distributing a controlled substance in the United States.
As per the Prohibited Acts A under title 21 of the U.S. Constitution, the complaint laid against the two suspects means that they each face the possibility of getting a jail sentence of 20 years.
Besides, if found guilty they face the prospects of paying a fine of up to $10 million.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant Rabenn indicated that the charges laid against the suspects stem from the fact that they distributed drugs throughout the U.S. using the dark web.
The court also established that both Frederick and Sandoval Lopez had no criminal history.
Earlier this month after appearing before Allison Claire, who is the U.S. Magistrate Judge, the two were released on a $50,000 bond as they awaited their indictments.
Following the release of the two suspects on bond, Rabenn raised several concerns. One of these was that there is a high propensity Sandoval Lopez would access his cryptocurrency funds.
This scenario could be problematic for the case as it inhibits regular financial background assessments.
However, Assistant Federal Defender Tim Zindel argued that the concerns were baseless due to the lack of evidence.
He also based his argument on the fact that the two suspects had no previous criminal charges.
The Prospects of the Feds’ Fight
The police have vowed to remain alert and thwart any further attempts by the suspects and other drug vendors operating on the dark web.
The case of Frederick and Sandoval Lopez follows several others that the police successfully took down recently.
These enforcement operations show that the feds, through their undercover tactics, are evolving their strategy in dealing with drug sales on the dark web.
This stand is reiterated by U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott, who maintains that the drug vendors have nowhere to hide.
The success of the undercover operations by the feds in California is partly due to the high level of collaboration by the personnel from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Postal Inspection Services and the Department of Homeland Security.
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