LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Three German nationals are facing federal drug distribution and money laundering charges in Los Angeles for their alleged roles as administrators of a hidden online marketplace for narcotics, counterfeit goods and malicious computer hacking software, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today.
Tibo Lousee, Klaus-Martin Frost and Jonathan Kalla are accused of operating Wall Street Market, one of the largest underground online markets for contraband, and diverting an estimated $11 million to their own accounts. The complaint comes after a two-year international investigation, federal prosecutors said in a statement.
The three defendants, arrested in Germany on April 23 and 24, also face criminal charges in Germany, the DOJ said.
A fourth defendant linked to WSM was charged Thursday in a criminal complaint filed in Sacramento federal court. Marcos Paulo De Oliveira-Annibale, 29, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, also faces federal drug distribution and money laundering charges for allegedly acting as a moderator on WSM, who, among other things, mediated disputes between vendors and their customers.
``We continue to keep pace with sophisticated actors on the dark web by increasing our technical abilities and working even more closely with our international law enforcement partners,'' said U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna of the Central District of California. ``While they lurk in the deepest corners of the internet, this case shows that we can hunt down these criminals wherever they hide.''
Authorities said WSM was the world's second largest dark web market, enabling the trade in cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamines, stolen data, fake documents and malicious software. The illegal platform was exclusively accessible via the Tor network in the so-called darknet and aimed at international trade, according to the DOJ.
For payment, the users of the online marketplace used the crypto currencies Bitcoin and Monero. The defendants are said to have received commission payments of 2 to 6 percent on each sale, authorities said.
Two of the top vendors on WSM -- identified by the online monikers Platinum45 and Ladyskywalker -- were based in the Los Angeles area and were major drug distributors, authorities allege.
One vender, Ladyskywalker, allegedly operated on several darknet marketplaces, where the individual advertised and sold opioids such as fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone, according to the DOJ.
The second top vendor -- who used the moniker Platinum45 and operated on at least two darknet marketplaces, including WSM -- advertised and sold drugs such as methamphetamine, Adderall and oxycodone to customers in the United States and around the world, including in Germany and Australia, federal prosecutors said.