Feds say they have dismantled large online illegal narcotics marketplace

DOJ: Incognito Market incorporated features from legitimate e-commerce sites.
Posted at 10:25 AM, May 21, 2024

Federal prosecutors said they have put a stop to one of the largest illegal narcotics marketplaces on the internet after arresting its operator.

The Department of Justice said Rui-Siang Lin has been arrested in connection to allegedly operating the Incognito Market, which the DOJ says helped trade narcotics anonymously around the world. Lin was arrested on May 18 at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

The DOJ called the operation an "online narcotics bazaar that existed on the dark web." It alleges that the Incognito Market sold more than $100 million in illegal narcotics, including hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamine. Prosecutors say Lin, a native of Taiwan, supervised all of the market's operations, employees and vendors for four years.

Prosecutors say the Incognito Market incorporated features from legitimate e-commerce sites, including advertising, branding and customer service.

Once users logged in, they could buy or sell illegal narcotics and misbranded prescription medication, the DOJ alleges.

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“Drug traffickers who think they can operate outside the law on the dark web are wrong,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin was the architect of Incognito, a $100 million dark web scheme to traffic deadly drugs to the United States and around the world. The long arm of the law extends to the dark web, and we will bring to justice those who try to hide their crimes there.”

The DOJ said that in some cases, prescription medication was mislabeled. One example was when an undercover agent purchased tablets sold as oxycodone, but after testing the tablets, turned out to be fentanyl.

The DOJ said each vendor paid 5% of every sale to Incognito Market, which funded its operations and salaries.

Prosecutors said Lin would face a minimum penalty of life in prison if convicted for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise or narcotics conspiracy. He also faces charges of money laundering and conspiracy to sell adulterated and misbranded medication.