A Dutchman in the polder town of Lelystad has been arrested on suspicion of running a sophisticated internet drug marketplace. US authorities cracked the network with the arrests of 15 people around the world. Federal officials suspect the 42-year-old Dutchman, Marc Willems, was the ringleader of the group.
The Farmer’s Market website, which was run by a group of eight, allowed suppliers to anonymously sell drugs - including marijuana, LSD, Ecstasy and hallucogenic mushrooms - to some 3,000 people worldwide. The sellers had an international base of buyers in 34 countries and accepted various forms of payment, including cash, Western Union and Pay Pal transactions.
Maximum sentence of life in prison
The online drug site started in 2006. From 2007 to 2009 alone, the marketplace processed more than 5,000 orders for drugs valued at more than one million dollars, federal officials claimed. The men involved in the Farmer’s Market received a commission based upon the value of the order.
The 12-count indictment, read in a Los Angeles court, charged eight men with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and money laundering. All could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Operation Adam Bomb
The investigation - dubbed “Operation Adam Bomb” - lasted two years and involved a coordinated mission between several US states and Colombia, the Netherlands and Scotland. The case was filed in Los Angeles because some of the customers and an undercover agent who bought drugs through the marketplace are from the region.
The investigation also led to the arrests of seven other men, including two in the Netherlands, but authorities are still determining their connections to the internet marketplace.
The marketplace allegedly used the Tor network, which spreads website and email communications through a volunteer network of servers around the world in order to hide internet address information.
Tor was first developed at a project of the US Naval Research Laboratory to protect government communications.
©Radio Netherlands Worldwide