Moderator of AlphaBay Dark Web Marketplace Gets 11 Years in Prison


A Colorado man was sentenced this week to eleven years in prison for his role as a moderator on the AlphaBay cybercrime marketplace.

The portal provided vendors and purchasers with the possibility to trade illegal goods such as credit card numbers, stolen identity data, guns, drugs, and more. 

When taken down in 2017, AlphaBay was the most popular Dark Web marketplace for illegal products, and had over 400,000 users. The portal was launched in December 2014.

A week before the marketplace was shut down, authorities performed raids in three different countries, which resulted in various equipment being seized. Half a year before that, an AlphaBay vulnerability that exposed hundreds of thousands of private messages, along with other user information was discovered. 

The man believed to run the marketplace, Alexander Cazes, was arrested in Thailand in 2017 and was found dead in his prison cell days after he allegedly gave his consent to be extradited to the United States. 

Law enforcement found Cazes’s laptop in an open and unencrypted state, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) says. Text files and the passwords/passkeys for AlphaBay (including servers and several online identities associated with the marketplace) were also discovered. 

In 2018, Ronald L. Wheeler III, who worked as the public relations specialist for AlphaBay, was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison.

The DoJ announced this week that Bryan Connor Herrell, 26, of Aurora, Colorado, who was a moderator on AlphaBay, being in charge with settling disputes between vendors and purchasers, received an 11-year prison sentence.

Herrell, who used the online monikers of “Penissmith” and “Botah,” also served as a scan watcher, a role in which he monitored for possible attempts to defraud AlphaBay users. Herrell was paid in Bitcoin for his work. 

According to the DoJ, the investigation of the AlphaBay marketplace and its former administrators is still ongoing. 

Related: Authorities Arrest Administrators of Portal to Dark Web Marketplaces

Related: Darknet Market Spokesman Gets Nearly 4 Years in Prison

Related: Dark Web Market AlphaBay Goes Down

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Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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