A convicted felon and former darkweb vendor, Jose Robert Porras III, has pleaded guilty to distributing the controlled substances and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Porras also sold drugs (Marijuana) on the Dream Market and the Wallstreet Market under the pseudonyms “Canna_Bars” and “TheFastPlug.”Federal law enforcement has investigated Porras as part of the “Operation Dark Gold”, the first-ever nationwide investigation into over 35 dark web vendors on the various marketplaces.
The investigation into Porras had involved some pretty unique tactics, like the analysis of pictures that have been posted online under the vendor identity ‘Canna_Bars’. Porras had also uploaded pictures of Marijuana as a part of the advertisements for potential customers. The pictures uploaded often included Porras’s fingerprints. And since he had one felony conviction for possession or purchase for sale of narcotics especially Marijuana, law enforcement already had his fingerprints on the file. The investigator working with the case sent high-quality copies of the pictures to the Homeland Security Investigations Document Laboratory (FDL). On 20th of March 2018, the analysts at FDL had sent the investigator a report that included their findings that stated that the fingerprints in the pictures matched the fingerprints on file for Porras.
Later in March this year, the investigator had received documents from the Cryptocurrency exchanges that he had requested in relation with the case. He had been searching the exchanges for accounts under known names and aliases of Porras and as well as his associates. At least one exchange has returned a hit on Porras, an alleged co-conspirator, and the alleged co-conspirators brother.
When the investigation swept in the final stages, it included undercover purchases of Marijuana from Porras’ accounts on both the darknet markets viz., Wallstreet Market and Dream Market. Eventually, the law enforcement has observed Porras and an alleged co-conspirator to drop packages off at a Post Office that matched the orders placed by undercover law enforcement officers.
This Marijuana case has been the product of an investigation by the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy Task Force (NCIDE), that comprised of agents from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Northern California Illicit Digital Economy Task Force (NCIDE) task force is a joint federal task force that is focused on targeting all forms of dark-web and Cryptocurrency activity in the Eastern District of California. The NCIDE is the task force now known for launching their own hidden service having a list of arrested dark web vendors.
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