Teen Sentenced for Darknet Explosive Purchase
On November 17, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall announced that a United States District Court Judge sentenced a 19-year-old to two years in prison for buying explosives on the darknet. He initially claimed that he planned to destroy the vehicle of someone who had “dinged” his mother’s car, but he later refreshed that he had planned to intimidate a rival drug dealer.
On December 19, 2016, Carlos Francisco Martin of Coffeyville, Kansas, attempted to receive a package containing an explosive device. Three packages contained a replica of the device he had ordered and a mechanism that alerted the authorities when the recipient opened the parcel. The FBI had obtained a warrant that asked them to enter Martin’s home and arrest the party responsible for opening the package.
Federal investigators monitoring homeland security and terrorism-related threats notified the FBI of Martin’s activity “approximately two weeks” prior to December 19, FBI Task Force Officer Christopher L. Roubideaux wrote. Roubideaux’s, in the Criminal Complaint, said that Martin had accessed “Website #1” on “Cyber Network #1.” He explained that he needed to refer to the site and network by the above monikers so the FBI could continue investigating criminal activity on the site.
He helpfully explained, while trying to prevent outsiders knowing the names of the the network and marketplace, that “Cyber Network #1” masked the identities of users by running their internet traffic through several relays. Users, he said, can only access “Cyber Network #1” through a special browser available online. He described “Website #1” as a Bitcoin-only marketplace for criminal goods.
The FBI obtained chat logs between the buyer and the seller from November 2016. One of the first messages between Martin and “Moniker #2” read, “Hey I need explosive I can throw and be impressed with how much for [an explosive]?” (The agent changed all references to the explosive devices to “explosive” to further avoid compromising the investigation.) The conversation between Martin and the explosive vendor reached a conclusion after deciding on a price of 0.1644 Bitcoin per explosive device.
An examination of Martin’s account on “Website #1” revealed that he had placed 27 orders for non-explosive products and had spent a total of 5.9225 Bitcoin on all 27 purchases. After placing the order, Martin asked questions regarding operation of the device. He told the vendor, in his curiosity:
“I want to get an explosive I can detonate next time but I want it to do the same or more damage than the [explosive}.. I just wanted to know what I could expect after I tried the [explosive}. I want to sneak up put it on truck and use from a safe distance. I want to blow up a truck… I’m wanting an explosive with a time delay.” (Emphasis added)
On December 19, the FBI performed a controlled delivery at Martin’s address. They then entered his house after he opened the package. He admitted he had ordered an explosive from the darknet, that he was the intended recipient, and that he accepted the package thinking it contained an explosive device.
FBI agents found 202 ecstasy pills while searching the teenager’s house. On his plea deal, he admitted that he had made 27 ecstasy pills purchases from vendors on the same darknet marketplace (“Website #1”). He admitted that he distributed drugs in the area. And he further admitted that he planned to use the explosive device on the vehicle of a rival drug dealer.
His plea agreement required admission of guilt to one count of possessing explosive devices in furtherance of another felony. The felony being drug trafficking and an attempt to destroy a rival dealer’s car. The judge overseeing the case sentenced Martin fairly and in accord with the sentencing guidelines. Martin will spend two years in prison for the explosive charge.