- Jan 21, 2023
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Dark Web Drug Ring Shut Down - Manhattan DA Charges Ringleader and Associates
A significant dark web drug peddling operation that amassed $7.2 million through cryptocurrency exchanges has been dismantled, following an indictment unsealed by the Manhattan District Attorney on February 17, 2023. The operation, known as "FireBunnyUSA," involved a Queens-based ringleader and four other accomplices, who have now been charged in connection with their illegal activities.
The individuals facing charges are Nan Wu, aged 35, along with his associates Peng Peng Tang, 30, Bowen Chen, 38, and Zixiang Lin, 22. They stand accused of orchestrating the shipment of over 10,000 packages containing various drugs, including cocaine, MDMA, and ketamine, to customers across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The dark web vendor, "FireBunnyUSA," was used as the platform for their illicit transactions, while they simultaneously laundered their profits using cryptocurrency exchanges.
Investigators have revealed that Wu's team efficiently managed the logistics of their criminal enterprise by acquiring shipping materials, renting U-Hauls, and securing storage facilities. Their operations were further facilitated by Katie Montgomery, a United States Postal Service (USPS) employee, who provided valuable advice on importing drugs into the country and monitored the progress of shipments.
"FireBunnyUSA" operated across multiple dark web marketplaces from January 2019 until August 2022. The group marketed themselves as an "old vendor with the best in QUALITY SPEED OF DELIVERY and STEALTH," attracting a significant customer base during their illicit run.
The undercover investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney's office began their pursuit of the drug ring between June 2021 and August 2022, conducting a total of 11 successful purchases from "FireBunnyUSA." In July 2022, they executed a search warrant at the apartments of Wu and Tang, leading to Wu's arrest and subsequent federal custody due to previous drug charges. Additionally, during the search, investigators seized 1 kilogram of Ketamine, over 1,200 MDMA pills, and various other drugs and packaging materials.
Following the search warrant in July 2022, "FireBunnyUSA" temporarily halted its operations. However, Chen later took over Wu's operations in California until a search warrant was executed at his residence in August 2022, effectively shutting down their activities.
Vital evidence against Wu and his associates was found on their confiscated phones, including extensive communications with suppliers regarding drug imports, as well as interactions with customers via encrypted messaging applications, such as Wickr and Telegram. Furthermore, investigators discovered that Tang had accumulated nearly $900,000 worth of cryptocurrency on his phone, implicating him further in the money laundering aspect of the operation.
The indictment marks a significant victory in the ongoing battle against dark web drug peddlers. The Manhattan District Attorney's office is steadfast in its commitment to apprehending those who exploit the anonymity of the dark web for their illegal activities, and this case is a testament to their relentless pursuit of justice.
The defendants will face the full force of the law, and their prosecution will send a strong message to other criminals engaging in similar activities that they will be held accountable for their actions. The takedown of the "FireBunnyUSA" operation highlights the growing capabilities of law enforcement agencies in combating cyber-enabled crime and underscores the importance of vigilant collaboration in safeguarding public safety.