Brooklyn Man Pleads Guilty To Drug Distribution Through Dark Web

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A Pakistani man from Brooklyn, N.Y., pleaded guilty in a California court to charges he distributed heroin through a “dark web marketplace.”

Chaudhry Ahmad Farooq, 24, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty Jan. 17, to one count of conspiring to distribute heroin from Nov. 2015 to August 2016, with his co-defendant Abdullah Almashwali, a man of Yemeni descent, on AlphaNBay. Dark web marketplaces are operated on computer networks designed to conceal the true Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computers accessing the network.

Farooq is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of California, Dale A. Drozd on May 17. Farooq faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

According to court documents, Farooq operated under the moniker “DarkApollo,” and distributed more than 600 grams of heroin in exchange for more than $145,000 in Bitcoin, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.

Dark web marketplaces allow for payments to be made only in the form of digital currency, most commonly Bitcoin. Online transactions in digital currency can be completed without a third-party payment processor and are therefore perceived to be more anonymous.

Both Farooq and Almashwali are in federal custody. They were indicted in August 2016. Almashwali is scheduled for trial on April 18. So far the charges against him are only allegations and he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the press release clarified.

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