26-Year-Old AlphaBay Darknet Moderator Who Received Payment In Bitcoin Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison
26-year-old Bryan Connor Herrell from Colorado, the former moderator of the AlphaBay darknet market place has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.
According to a Tuesday announcement by the US Department of Justice, Connor Herrell pleaded guilty to racketeering charges related to AlphaBay. AlphaBay was an illegal website that facilitated illicit transactions like guns, drugs, stolen identity information, credit card numbers, and other illegal items, for thousands of vendors and purchasers.
Bryan Connor facilitated the illegal exchange between buyers and sellers and received payment in Bitcoin (BTC) to settle disputes. He also monitored potential scammers to prevent Alphabay users from getting defrauded.
“As a moderator on AlphaBay, Herrell settled disputes between vendors and purchasers and settled over 20,000 disputes. He is also accused of serving as a scam watcher- providing a service dedicated to monitoring attempts to defraud AlphaBay users.”
Herrell’s Sentence to serve as a Warning to Darknet Criminals Using Cryptocurrencies
Herrell pleaded guilty to the charges in January and was scheduled to be sentenced on May 18. At the time, the US Justice Department stated that Herrell was facing a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison.
The sentencing, according to a statement by Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan, indicates Law enforcement’s commitment to eliminate the false sense of security that criminals have in darknet marketplaces.
“This sentence serves as further proof that criminals cannot hide behind technology to break the law. Operating behind the veil of the darknet may seem to offer shelter from criminal investigations, but people should think twice before ordering or selling drugs online-you will be caught.”
Regan further stated that Herrell’s case will serve as an example to other participants in illegal markets who are purchasing or selling illegal items.
“Herrell’s sentence sends a clear message to criminals that the darknet is no safe haven for illegal transactions.”
The US Department of Justice shut down AlphaBay, which was ten times the size of Silk Road, in July 2017, after its two years of operation, which left a lot of damage in its wake.
As the largest online source of Fentanyl and heroin, AlphaBay was linked to overdose deaths as well as an increased number of people acquiring illegal goods and services anonymously online.
The founder of AlphaBay, Alexandre Cazes was also arrested in 2017 in Thailand through collaboration between the Thai Police, the DEA, and the FBI. His indictment was, however, dismissed following his death shortly thereafter.