Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Joanna De Alba was sentenced by United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry to 96 months in prison for distributing, and possessing with intent to distribute, illegal drugs over the “dark web.” De Alba distributed an array of illegal drugs—including fentanyl, heroin, MDMA, cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone and methadone—over the dark web in exchange for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. De Alba pleaded guilty in April 2021.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ray Donovan, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division, announced the sentence.
“The prison sentence imposed on De Alba today demonstrates that her clandestine use of the dark web to distribute a potentially lethal array of powerful drugs like fentanyl, heroin and oxycodone in exchange for cryptocurrency was a failure,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “This investigation and vigorous prosecution show that we will not allow the dark web to be a haven for drug traffickers.”
“This sentencing demonstrates that drug traffickers are not untouchable by dealing in the dark web,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan. “Attempting to hide through anonymity, De Alba became a parent’s worst nightmare by pushing fentanyl, heroin and other dangerous drugs into homes across our many communities. I applaud the DEA Cyber Investigative Unit- New York Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York for their commendable work throughout this investigation.”
The internet contains online marketplaces for narcotics and other contraband on the “dark web,” a part of the internet located beyond the reach of traditional internet browsers and accessible only through networks designed to conceal user identities. The “Wall Street Market” was a global dark web marketplace that required its users to trade in digital currencies, primarily Bitcoin.
Between June 2018 and May 2019, De Alba advertised and sold illegal narcotics on the Wall Street Market. These narcotics included opioids—including fentanyl (concealed as oxycodone pills) and heroin—as well as other potent illegal drugs including oxycodone, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and other substances containing MDMA. De Alba took various measures to operate anonymously and conceal her identity, including using the online alias “RaptureReloaded,” using fake company names and shipping addresses, using the name of her deceased husband to receive packages from her suppliers and using credit cards in her deceased husband’s name to fund the tracking of her shipments. De Alba also directed customers to contact her through encrypted email and messaging services and pay her with cryptocurrency. De Alba offered free shipping to addresses in the United States and free tracking of all orders.
De Alba participated in over 600 transactions on the Wall Street Market in which she sold more than: 840 grams of heroin; 190 grams of methamphetamine; 1,250 pills of MDMA; and 280 pills of oxycodone. De Alba also sold more than 750 fake oxycodone pills—pills that actually contained fentanyl, but were concealed and disguised as oxycodone. De Alba received payment in the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Monero, and pocketed approximately 16.32 BTC and 400 XMR, which together are worth more than $1 million today.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Saritha Komatireddy and Francisco J. Navarro are in charge of the prosecution.