Bryan Connor Herrell, a 26-year-old man from Colorado who served as a moderator for AlphaBay, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison. His is the latest AlphaBay-related case to come to a close after authorities seized what was once the dark web’s biggest marketplace for guns, drugs and stolen identities and financial data back in 2017. According to the Department of Justice, Herrell settled over 20,000 disputes between vendors and purchasers for the marketplace. He also kept an eye out for scams and monitored users’ attempts to defraud each other.
The DOJ says Herrell was paid in Bitcoin for his services and operated under the pseudonyms “Penissmith” and “Botah,” but the steps he took to preserve his anonymity weren’t enough to protect him. When the Royal Thai Police, the FBI and the DEA executed an arrest warrant for alleged AlphaBay founder Alexandre Cazes at his residence in Bangkok, they found an unencrypted laptop with files identifying people associated with the marketplace.
Cazes’ case was dismissed after he died in his cell in Thailand of suspected suicide. Meanwhile, Herrell pleaded guilty to “conspiring to engage in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization” in January and faced up to 20 years in prison.
US Attorney McGregor Scott of the Eastern District of California said in a statement:
“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. This office will continue using all means available to pursue darknet-based crimes, particularly those involving fentanyl, opioids, and other dangerous drugs.”
According to an old Wired report, AlphaBay featured up to 300,000 listings and earned between $600,000 and $800,000 a day in revenue before it was seized. It was a massive business and its takedown led to the arrest not just of individuals running the marketplace, but also of vendors selling illicit goods on the dark web.
An AlphaBay public relations specialist was sentenced to three years in prison back in 2018, and at least a couple of drug traffickers were also sentenced to serve time. In February this year, feds charged Ohio resident Larry Harmon for laundering the equivalent of roughly $300 million in Bitcoin for drug dealers and other crooks who sold their goods on the marketplace.