A darknet suspect’s honeymoon arrest and the FBI’s broader warning
ST. LOUIS – A darknet website recently sold anything illegal that a criminal could ask for.
The website, called “Kingdom Market,” contained 25,000 illegal listings in November, from heroin and cocaine to stolen driver’s licenses and passports, or computer malware for hacking purposes.
Court records say investigators narrowed in on a suspect who used the name “Vend0r” with a zero.
Federal prosecutors said that suspect is Alan Bill from Slovakia. Bill was arrested in Newark, NJ, on his honeymoon. He was brought to St. Louis as he made controlled purchases of illegal drugs and fake ID’s, having them shipped to the area.
The 30-year-old faces 10 felony charges, including drug distribution, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.
Bill spoke through a translator as he and his attorney made the case that he has no criminal record in Slovakia.
But just 24 hours prior, Bill applied for what’s called a U Visa, a special visa set aside for victims of crimes. The prosecutor appeared bewildered, telling the judge that the suspect is not eligible for that visa.
A judge will rule next week on whether Bill stays in custody for his court fight. The FBI was instrumental in the process.
“This case highlights the need for international partnerships to overcome how technology has brought these criminals in contact with our kids,” Jay Greenburg, special agent in charge of the FBI in St. Louis, said.
Greenburg said this one alleged illegal website is just the beginning of what’s out there.
“They’ll sell drivers licenses on the web, U.S. passports on the web; that’s where we start to worry about the nexus of terrorists that can get legitimate identities from real Americans, appear to be them, change a photo, travel into our country and then carry out some plot that we’re not tracking because of the technical obfuscation,” he said.
Some popular cyber platforms make it easy for criminals to hide, and investigators need laws to grant them access to suspects.
“We believe there is a great opportunity here for the public to get the laws they want, and we believe there’s plenty of room for privacy to be upheld to the American standard and to still allow law enforcement the access we need to hold criminals accountable,” Greenburg said.