Bryan Connor Herrell Gets 11 Years for Moderating Disputes
on Darknet Marketplace Alphabay
September 01, 2020
Bryan Connor Herrell, 26, of Aurora, Colorado, was sentenced
by United States District Court Judge Dale A. Drozd to 11 years in
prison, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott for the Eastern District of
California and Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the
Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced.
According to court documents, Herrell was a moderator on the AlphaBay
marketplace, an illegal website that operated on the so-called darknet.
On AlphaBay, vendors and purchasers engaged in hundreds of thousands of
illicit transactions for guns, drugs, stolen identity information,
credit card numbers and other illegal items. At the time, AlphaBay was
the world’s largest online drug marketplace.
“This sentence of an AlphaBay employee demonstrates the collective
efforts of law enforcement authorities in the United States and Europe
to find and prosecute transnational criminal actors wherever they hide,”
said Acting Assistant Attorney General Rabbitt. “The department will
continue to work tirelessly to hold accountable criminals who use the
Dark Web to facilitate illegal activity no matter where they may be
“This sentence serves as further proof that criminals cannot hide behind
technology to break the law,” said U.S. Attorney Scott. “Operating
behind the veil of the darknet may seem to offer shelter from criminal
investigations, but people should think twice before ordering or selling
drugs online—you will be caught. This office will continue using all
means available to pursue darknet-based crimes, particularly those
involving fentanyl, opioids, and other dangerous drugs.”
“The FBI is committed to developing highly trained cyber investigators
who work with our international partners and perpetually evolve to
counter the threat darknet criminals pose. Cases like these exemplify
how the FBI and our international partners are eliminating the false
promise of anonymity dark marketplaces claim to provide and are
successfully dismantling criminal organizations which prey upon
communities through use of sophisticated computer code,” said Special
Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office.
“Herrell's sentence sends a clear message to criminals that the darknet
is no safe haven for illegal transactions.”
As a moderator on AlphaBay, Herrell settled disputes between vendors and
purchasers. He is also served as a scam watcher – providing a service
dedicated to monitor attempts to defraud AlphaBay users. Herrell went by
the monikers “Penissmith” and “Botah” and was paid in Bitcoin for his
June 1, 2017, a Fresno grand jury indicted the alleged founder of
AlphaBay, Alexandre Cazes. On July 5, 2017, the Royal Thai Police, with
assistance from the FBI and DEA, executed an arrest warrant for
Alexandre Cazes at his residence in Bangkok, in connection with his
alleged involvement with AlphaBay. At the time of his arrest, law
enforcement discovered Cazes’s laptop open and in an unencrypted state.
Agents and officers found several text files that identified the
passwords/passkeys for the AlphaBay website, the AlphaBay servers, and
other online identities associated with AlphaBay. The indictment against
Cazes was dismissed as a result of his death. The investigation of
AlphaBay and its former administrators continues.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Sacramento and
Philadelphia Field offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Paul Hemesath and Grant B. Rabenn, and
Senior Counsel Louisa K. Marion of the Department of Justice’s Computer
Crime and Intellectual Property Section are prosecuting the case. The
Philadelphia and Denver United States Attorney’s Offices provided