Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) have identified a dark web vendor by connecting bitcoin transactions to his home I.P. address.
Accordint to a plea deal, the dark web vendor, Daren James Reid, 35, of Fort Lauderdale, used multiple dark web markets to distribute oxycodone. Reid used different monikers to distribute his pills. Reid was known as “Oxyflight” and “Imperial Royalty,” he sold over 12,000 oxycodone pills on the Silk Road Market, WallStreet Market, Apollon Market, Dream Market, and other markets. Reid also admitted that he sold between 3,000 and 10,000 kilograms of marijuana on the dark web. He had a gross profit of over $500,000. When the police raided his storage facility they found over one kilogram of oxycodone, morphine, and other pills.
Reid pleaded guilty to unlawful distribution and possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone in February 2021.
According to an affidavit, the investigation into Reid started in April 2019, when the FBI conducted controlled purchases of oxycodone pills from one of the vendor accounts that was used by Reid. Then in 2020, the FDA-OCI conducted a similar undercover purchases using an encrypted email address that was advertised on Reid’s “Imperial Royalty” vendor profile.
FBI agents contacted Reid through an email address he advertised ([email protected]), he said that he could enable “direct deal” transactions. During the investigation, the FBI purchased oxycodone pills via a direct deal many times. FBI Special Agent Ellis says:
In February 2020, an undercover FDA-OCI agent ordered 22 Oxycodone pills from ImperialRoyalty via encrypted email address [email protected] This email address was previously listed on darkweb markets as a way to contact ImperialRoyalty. On or about February 5, 2020, ImperialRoyalty provided a bitcoin address ending Umgt as a payment address to the undercover FDA-OCI agent. On or about February 5, 2020, the undercover FDA-OCI agent sent bitcoin to the ImperialRoyalty First Direct Deal Address to purchase controlled substances.
On or about February 10, 2020, the FDA-OCI agent received 22 pills as ordered from ImperialRoyalty. These pills were white in color, bearing the letters “RP” on one side and “30” on the other. Based on my training and experience, these markings are consistent with the FDA approved Oxycodone Hydrochloride 30mg tablets produced by Rhodes Pharmaceuticals.
Reid did not mix his bitcoins and the Bitcoin addresses sent from the vendor to FBI agents provided law enforcement with everything they needed to identify him. FBI Special Agent Ellis, previously investigated money laundering with the Secret Service, provided a simple analysis of the Bitcoin transactions that ultimately led to Reid’s identification and arrest.
Investigators were able to link transactions from the bitcoin address to Paxful exchange. Paxful provided the feds with information about the account associated with the bitcoin transactions in question. The exchange provided; a username, an email address ([email protected]), and at least three I.P. addresses used to access the account.
The third I.P. address, provided by Paxful was linked to a Comcast address, and it provided investigators with all the evidence they needed to link a name to the Paxful account, the FBI were able to get:
- The name, Darren Reid
- The service address in Hallandale, Florida
- The billing address in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and
- The phone number.
Records obtained from Google pertaining to the email address associated with the suspect’s Paxful account showed that one of the I.P. addresses used to access the email address was the same as one of the I.P. addresses provided by Paxful.
A “public internet database” search matched the email address “[email protected]” with Daren Reid.
The FBI received a search warrant for both Gmail addresses associated with Reid. In the email they found:
image in the [email protected] email account showing a large collection of pills stamped “M” on one side and “30” on the other side (the same stamps as on pills purchased by the FDA-OCI undercover agent on or about April 8, 2020, as further described in Paragraph 16) and a printed image of the word “OxyFlight.” Based on my training and experience, the pills shown in this image are visually consistent with FDA approved genuine 30 mg Oxycodone Hydrochloride pills manufactured by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.
The investigators also found a bitcoin address that had transactions directly from silk road.
The FBI conducted physical surveillance at areas associated with Reid. They watched him drop off packages at a USPS Blue Box. The feds took custody of the package and noted similarities between it and the packages they had received after conducting undercover purchases from Imperial Royalty.
Reid has pleaded guilty to unlawful distribution and possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone. Reid is scheduled to be sentenced on June 1, 2021 and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.