Alphabay Vendor Pleads Guilty

Alphabay Vendor Pleads Guilty

A 36-year-old man pleaded guilty on Thursday to selling drugs on the dark web.

According to a release, Mark Faulkner pleaded guilty to distribution of a controlled substance analogue.

Faulkner was found during a 2017 multi-agency federal investigation into illegal drug sales on the dark web.

“Marketplaces on the dark web, like AlphaBay, Dream, and Hansa, function as a place where a wide variety of illegal goods and services, including narcotics, firearms, child pornography, stolen credit card numbers, and counterfeit identity documents, can be bought and sold with greater anonymity than on the traditional Internet,” a release said.

In 2017, investigators with HSI and USPIS conducted online undercover operations targeting the importation and distribution of drugs on these dark web marketplaces. In addition to making covert online purchases of drugs, investigators also operated a cash-for-Bitcoin exchange business, through which they received Bitcoin from drug vendors in return for bulk cash that investigators shipped back to the drug vendors as part of the investigative process.

Faulkner used the vendor name CHANG1927 to advertise Adderall and fentanyl products on multiple dark markets. Investigators identified Faulkner through Bitcoin exchange transactions and three purchases of drugs that were advertised as fentanyl. Forensic testing later determined that the substance was actually cyclopropyl fentanyl, an analogue of fentanyl. Controlled substance analogues have chemical structures that are substantially similar, and have similar effects on the central nervous system as the controlled substances.

Faulkner pleaded guilty to distribution of a controlled substance analogue and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on April 29.

Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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