* Charged with selling drugs in U.S., 34 other countries
* Defendants face maximum sentence of life in prison
By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES, April 16 Eight men charged with
running an elaborate online narcotics market that sold drugs to
3,000 people in the United States and 34 other countries have
been arrested following a two-year investigation dubbed
"Operation Adam Bomb," prosecutors said on M on day.
The secret ring known as "The Farmer's Market" operated
through the TOR computer network, which allows users to
communicate anonymously, according to a federal grand jury
indictment unsealed on Monday in Los Angeles.
The online drug market provided order forms and customer
service, guaranteeing delivery in exchange for a commission and
accepting payment through PayPal, Western Union and other
means, the indictment charges.
Authorities said the defendants were accused of running one
of the most sophisticated drug marketplaces on the Internet and
said the prosecution represented a first of its kind.
"The drug trafficking organization targeted in Operation
Adam Bomb was distributing dangerous and addictive drugs to
every corner of the world, and trying to hide their activities
through the use of advanced anonymizing on-line technology,"
Briane Grey, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration acting special
agent in charge, said in a written release.
"Today's action should send a clear message to organizations
that are using technology to conduct criminal activity that the
DEA and our law enforcement partners will track them down and
bring them to justice," Grey said.
Marc Willems, 42, who is accused of creating and running
"The Farmer's Market," was taken into custody at his home in
Lelystad, Netherlands, by Dutch authorities, U.S. Attorneys
spokeswoman Gymeka Williams said.
Law enforcement officials in Bogota arrested 42-year-old
Michael Evron, a U.S. citizen living in Argentina who allegedly
oversaw technical and customer support for the online
marketplace, as he was attempting to leave Colombia, Williams
Jonathan Colbeck, 51; Brian Colbeck, 47; Ryan Rawls, 31;
Jonathan Dugan, 27; George Matzek, 20; and Charles Bigras, 37,
were arrested at their respective homes in Iowa, Michigan,
Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Florida.
All eight defendants were charged with federal drug
trafficking and money laundering charges and prosecutors had
filed extradition papers to return Willems and Evron back to the
United States for trial, Williams said.
Each faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if
According to the 66-page indictment, "The Farmer's Market"
allowed independent sources to advertise illegal drugs -
including LSD, ecstasy, fentanyl, mescaline ketamine, DMT and
high-end marijuana - for sale to the public.
The deals were allegedly handled through the online
marketplace, which processed more than 5,200 orders for
controlled substances valued at more than $1 million between
January 2007 and October 2009, the indictment charges.
The law enforcement operation was called "Adam Bomb" because
the original name of the marketplace was Adamflowers, according
to the indictment.
According to its website, TOR offers free software and an
open network that allows users to defend against "network
surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy."
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)