Suffolk man one of two indicted for operating $430 million dark web marketplace

Published 10:10 am Saturday, June 15, 2024

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A Suffolk man is one of two men indicted in a federal court in Chicago for operating “Empire Market,” a dark web marketplace said to have facilitated the anonymous sale of over $430 million in illegal goods and services globally.

According to a June 14 release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois, Raheim Hamilton, also known as “Sydney” and “Zero Angel,” 28, of Suffolk, and Thomas Pavey, also known as “Dopenugget,” 38, of Ormond Beach, Florida, operated Empire Market from 2018 to 2020. During this period, they allegedly facilitated approximately four million transactions between vendors and buyers, according to an indictment filed on Thursday, June 13, in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The indictment charges Pavey and Hamilton with conspiring to engage in drug trafficking, computer fraud, access device fraud, counterfeiting, and money laundering. These charges carry a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.

Pavey and Hamilton are currently in U.S. law enforcement custody, and arraignments in federal court in Chicago are pending.

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According to the indictment, Pavey and Hamilton previously collaborated on AlphaBay, a dark web marketplace for illicit goods that shut down in 2017 to sell counterfeit U.S. currency. According to the began operating Empire Market on Feb. 1, 2018. Vendors on Empire Market sold various illicit goods and services, including controlled substances like heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and LSD, counterfeit currency, and stolen credit card information. Transactions were completed using cryptocurrency, and buyers could rate their purchases on criteria including “stealth.”

According to the indictment, federal law enforcement seized cryptocurrency valued at $75 million, cash, and precious metals during the investigation.