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Empire Market Vendor from Texas Charged in a Multi-million Dollar Darknet Drug Distribution Conspiracy

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Two Texas men were charged in a complaint unsealed on February 12 for their alleged participation in a drug distribution conspiracy perpetrated over the Darknet.

Kevin Ombisi, 31, and Eric Russell Jr., 35, both of Katy, were each charged in a complaint filed in the Western District of Tennessee. Ombisi is charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of unlawful distribution of controlled substances, and Russell is charged with one count of conspiracy.

Ombisi and Russell were arrested on February 11.

The complaint alleges that Ombisi and Russell used a marketplace on the Darknet and an encrypted messaging service called Wickr to sell pills that were made to resemble the drug branded as Adderall. In reality, the pills were not Adderall. Instead, they contained methamphetamine.

In conjunction with the arrests, the government seized more than $5 million in assets alleged to be connected to the drug trafficking activity.

According to the affidavit, DEA agents made purchases from the duo which were mailed from Texas to addresses in Tennessee, Kansas and Missouri.

In November 2019, the vendor’s profile on notorious dark web marketplace Empire boasted over 2000 five-star reviews and “3657 sold since April 2019,” the court document noted.

The officers are said to have traced the “Postage Reseller” account used by Ombisi to ship the items, plus GPS and CCTV data from post offices, to track him down.

They also analyzed multiple Bitcoin wallet addresses and managed to link them to accounts with a cryptocurrency exchange in the EU, registered in Ombisi’s name and accessed from an IP address registered to Russell.

A court order then provided the investigators with access to Ombisi’s iCloud account, where they were able to find more incriminating evidence.

Empire Market finally dissolved in August last year after a suspected exit scam.

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Written by Kofi Anash

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