How Army Veteran Made Millions from the Dark Web
According to the US government, an army veteran made a fortune flogging drugs on the darknet. 44-year-old James Verl Barlow traded under the name Tripwithscience. In addition, he specialized in psychedelic drugs on different dark web bazaars. In fact, Barlow was one of the successful dealers to grace the dark web.
Do you think the US Army pays enough? Or maybe the lure of making a fortune selling drugs on the darknet is too much for some.
Well, according to prosecutors, Barlow’s criminal winnings are between $12 million and $15 million. Further, the winnings are in the following forms:
- Expensive property
- Mountains of cryptocurrency
- Jet skis
- Loaded fiat currency bank accounts
Indeed, the Justice Department believes Barlow had several co-conspirators. For instance, he worked with his 35-year-old brother, Matthew Barlow. Together, the squad carried out a complex, globe-spanning psychedelic operation. As an example, they sold liquid psychedelic mushrooms in nine-milligram vials. Each went for $20 across all dark markets, including Silk Road 2.0.
Investigations on Tripwithscience
By January this year, investigators began closing in. As a result, they recovered data from what they said was Barlow’s Google account. His Google Drive had spreadsheets with sales information for Tripwithscience. Likewise, it had sales information of another vendor called Perfectshrooms.
The government wrote in a search warrant that the accounts made 704 darknet transactions. Hence making about 1,544 in Bitcoin, worth around $400,000 at the time. Yet, now the Bitcoins are worth around $90 million.
One spreadsheet indicated that Barlow earned about 2,300 Bitcoins from 2014 to 2020. In comparison, he earned around $4,000 a month working for the US Army. Still, it isn’t clear how Barlow’s fortune came to get estimated to be just $15 million. Court records indicate he was paying $6,000 to a reshipper every two weeks. The reshipper’s task was packaging up the psychedelic vials.
Further, investigators however noted that Barlow owned a handful of other businesses. For example, Good to Glow which made clothing containing LED lights. However, Barlow wasn’t generating enough income from the other businesses.
The arrest of Army Veteran
Barlow and his brother got arrested in April but haven’t filed pleas. Their lawyer declined to comment. On the other hand, the other co-conspirators pleaded not guilty and await a trial date.
The Barlows aren’t the first siblings to run a dark web drugs’ business. So then, in 2020, two brothers got charged. The reason is, they were running a six-year scheme under the name Pill Cosby. They laundered $2.8 million over that time.
Global authorities are continuing to crack down dark web dealers. Moreover, they announced the arrest of 150 alleged suspects. They got involved in trading illegal goods. According to Europol, the following got seized:
$30 million in cash and virtual currencies
234kg of drugs
Generally speaking, it is not easy to curb dark web criminal activities. The reason being, darknet users, use the Tor Browser and VPNs to cover their communication. Even so, not all dark web users have ‘dark’ intentions. So, journalists, activists, and protesters also use the platform. Encrypted communication is all they use the dark web for.
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