Three Vancouver Island men are facing multiple charges in connection with a cryptocurrency-funded dark web drug trafficking ring.
Kien Trung Pham, Kerry Chang and Gordon Brooks were arrested on February 4, 2020, about a year after police launched an online undercover investigation into an international dark web organized crime group that used the vendor name ” AlwaysOverweight”.
The trio are scheduled to appear in Nanaimo Provincial Court on June 7, police said in a news release Tuesday.
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The dark web is accessed through special anonymization and encryption browsers that hide the user’s digital fingerprint.
According to the BC RCMP, AlwaysOverweight used cryptocurrency and encrypted messaging apps to cover their tracks. During this time, he trafficked in illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, oxycodone, MDMA, Xanax and what he claimed was heroin, but in fact fentanyl mixed with cutting agents.
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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Serious and Organized Cybercrime Federal Operations Group broke through the criminal entity’s digital barriers and identified an address in Nanaimo as the physical location of the vendor. Pham, Chang and Brooks were identified as suspects as the investigation evolved into “street-level drug transactions”, police said.
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On the day police arrested the suspects, they executed search warrants at two Nanaimo homes and seized a variety of drugs, wrappers, mailing envelopes, documents, cash, computers and data storage devices.
Pham was subsequently charged with 11 counts of trafficking in a controlled substance and four counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking. Brooks faces seven counts on both counts, and Chang was charged with one count of trafficking a controlled substance.
“The dark web is just one of the tools that organized crime uses to avoid detection, and so police must continually evolve their technical capabilities to stem the flow of toxic drugs into our communities,” said the superintendent. said Richard Bergevin in the press release.
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