Updated February 1st, 2020
Defendant Joanna De Alba,a U.S. citizen,was arraigned Thursday afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn on an indictment charging her with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and methamphetamine, and distribution of heroin and methamphetamine via the “dark web.” De Alba was detained on October 24, 2019 at the U.S.-Mexico border while attempting to enter the United States. The arraignment was held before United States Magistrate Judge Steven L. Tiscione.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA), announced the charges.
Prosecutors said that between June 2018 and May 2019 De Alba allegedly advertised and sold illegal narcotics on the Wall Street Market, global dark web marketplace, using the moniker RaptureReloaded.
Customers were directed to pay her in Bitcoin and contact her through encrypted email and messaging services.
De Alba, 39, offered customers free shipping to addresses in the U.S. under “stealth” delivery options including “Basic Stealth” “Better Stealth” and “Super Stealth 360,” according to the indictment.
Prosecutors said these options featured measures to conceal the external and internal packaging of illegal narcotics to evade detection by law enforcement — and to inform buyers if law enforcement had intercepted, tampered with or were monitoring the shipment.
“As alleged, De Alba dispensed heroin and methamphetamine from the shadowy corners of the internet, believing that it provided anonymity,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “Thanks to the outstanding work by this office’s prosecutors and DEA special agents, a bright light has been shined on her activities, and she will now be held to account.”
De Alba is a U.S. citizen who was living in Tijuana, Mexico, officials said.
On January 3, 2019, an undercover DEA agent accessed the RaptureReloaded listing on the Wall Street Market and purchased 30 grams of heroin for a total of $1,810. Later that day, the undercover agent purchased 10 grams of methamphetamine from the RaptureReloaded listing for a total of $160. As requested, the undercover agent paid for the drugs with Bitcoin.
On January 14, 2019, the undercover agent retrieved a package shipped by RaptureReloaded via the U.S. postal service to a mailbox in Queens, New York. The package contained a small plastic container containing approximately 30 grams of a substance that tested positive for heroin, and a clear plastic bag containing approximately 10 grams of a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine.
Between August 2018 and January 2019, law enforcement agents intercepted five packages containing methamphetamine pills and fentanyl that were shipped from the Netherlands and Canada and addressed to De Alba’s deceased husband at an apartment in southern California. Allegedly, since her husband’s death in March 2018, De Alba used his identity and credit cards to fund her narcotics business on the Wall Street Market.
If convicted of all counts, De Alba faces a mandatory minimum term of five years’ imprisonment and a maximum sentence of up to 100 years in prison.