A Colorado man who mediated disputes on the now-defunct darknet marketplace Alphabay has been handed a lengthy prison sentence.
- According to a Tuesday press statement by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), 26-year-old Bryan Connor Herrell received an 11-year prison term from U.S District Court Judge Dale Drozd.
- Herrell was responsible for settling disputes between vendors and consumers concerning trades in illicit goods such as drugs and guns, often paid for using bitcoin.
- He was also responsible for monitoring attempts to defraud users of the darknet marketplace and operated under the monikers "Penissmith" and "Botah."
- "This sentence serves as further proof criminals cannot hide behind technology," said U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott.
- People should think again before buying or selling drugs online: "You will be caught," Scott said.
- Prior to being shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in July 2017, AlphaBay was a popular marketplace for illicit items including stolen identities, credit cards and narcotics.
- In February, 36-year-old Ohio resident Larry Dean Harmon, former CEO of Coin Ninja, was charged by U.S. law enforcement with laundering more than $300 million in bitcoin for AlphaBay.
- Harmon's family denied he was ever involved directly with AlphaBay, with his brother claiming the marketplace used Harmon's cryptocurrency mixer Helix without his consent or input.
- Mixers allow users to obfuscate the source of a cryptocurrency payment by outputting different coins than are sent.
- Alphabay users traded using cryptocurrency like bitcoin because payments are outside the banking system and are semi-anonymous.
- However, transactions are traceable on most blockchains and can ultimately be used by law enforcement to link criminals to their activities.