A darknet vendor group operating under the profile “Largomonkey” was arrested following a lengthy investigation by the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) Task Force. Investigators began tracking the group’s activities in July 2019 after placing an order for cocaine through their SamSara vendor page. The group was found to have shipped the cocaine from Sacramento, California. Investigators then traced the shipment back to the group’s residence and placed additional undercover orders for narcotics. After gathering sufficient evidence, law enforcement agents arrested the group and obtained a seizure warrant for their digital assets. The group was later convicted of conspiring with intent to distribute cocaine and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 12 months to 5 years.
Four Sacramento Residents Sentenced in Darknet Cocaine Distribution Scheme
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California announced; the conviction and sentencing of four Sacramento residents for conspiring to distribute or possessing with intent to distribute cocaine.
Viliami Mosese Fatukala, 40; Quynhmy Quoc Yamamoto, 34; Iris June Micu Mina, 38; and John Phillip Hollis II, 45, formed part of an elaborate Darknet Market drug distribution ring operating out of Sacramento.
Fatukala advertised the sale of cocaine, oxycodone, and marijuana products on the darknet. His conspirators, Yamamoto and Mina, were responsible for packaging and distributing the narcotics. At the same time, John Phillip Hollis is believed to have supplied the group with narcotics.
The Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) Task Force confirmed the group operated under the dark vendor profile “Largomonkey.” On the SamSara vendor page, Largomonkey claimed to have “made over 2000 transactions on Dream” with a 4.8/5 star rating.
Darknet vendors often advertise their reviews and ratings from other darknet marketplaces as a way to establish trust between customers. Buyer’s Darknet markets rate vendors on the quality of their products and the likelihood of receiving them.
Largomonkey’s 4.8/5 rating meant the group was an established and trusted vendor. Law enforcement officers allege the group sold approximately 13.7 kilograms of cocaine over the darknet.
What We Know About the Investigation
In July 2019, the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) Task Force opened a joint investigation into “Largomonkey”, a darknet vendor. As a function of the task force, investigators regularly purchased narcotics with digital or fiat currencies from persons operating and illegally selling narcotics on the dark web.
On July 5, NCIDE investigators placed an order with Largomonkey through direct communications via the Sillycoconut Wickr account. Investigators purchased an ounce of cocaine from the vendor and sent 0.015 Bitcoin to the Bitcoin address provided.
On July 9, investigators received a package containing a wax mold of a Buddha’s head, with cocaine concealed on the inside. The package was then submitted to the DEA’s laboratory and tested positive for cocaine hydrochloride.
Law enforcement agents began to question the origins of the package and traced the USPS mail order. Based on the findings and an inspection of the package’s return address, USPS investigators discovered that it was shipped from Sacramento.
A thorough surveillance of camera footage and an analysis of the USPS database linked Fatukala, Mina, and Yamamoto as Largomonkeys mailers. On several occasions, Mina was captured on surveillance footage, dropping off packages in USPS blue bins.
Investigative officers continued to gather evidence and placed another order with Largomonkey. On this occasion, the order was for 7 grams of cocaine and two pills of oxycodone, costing approximately 0.332 Bitcoin.
On July 18, law enforcement officers received a parcel shipped in USPS Priority Mail, containing two wax molds of Buddha’s head. Concealed inside the molds were 7 grams of cocaine hydrochloride and two oxycodone pills.
Jason Chin, DEA Special Agent, said in an affidavit that law enforcement agents “conducted a total of 16 undercover purchases of cocaine and/or oxycodone pills from Largomonkey.” He further confirmed that the purchases were made through Largomonkey’s SamSara vendor page and direct communication via their Wickr account.
Every order was paid for in Bitcoin and the funds were sent directly to a Bitcoin address. During the investigation, law enforcement officers began to track the movement of illicit funds.
Bitcoin addresses used for receiving funds from the sale of narcotics to agents were traced on the Bitcoin blockchain. The funds were eventually linked to Fatukala and Mina’s Coinbase accounts.
Agents accessed the transaction records of both suspect’s Coinbase accounts. Mina and Fatukala accounts received Bitcoin payments daily. To conceal the funds, the pair would convert Bitcoin from their Coinbase wallet into U.S. currency and transfer it directly into their bank accounts.
From July 13, 2018, to June 6, 2019, Fatukala’s Coinbase account received 134.3490889 Bitcoin. During that period, he sold 129.5704514 Bitcoin and converted it into U.S. currency, approximately $624,718.11 in value at the time.
Arrest and Sentencing
On the strength of the evidence gathered through a lengthy investigation, law enforcement agents applied for a search and seizure from thU.S..S District Court of California. Judge Deborah Barnes issued the seizure warrant on 17 December 2019.
On December 19, following a stop, investigators arrested John Phillip Hollis. Agents seized a kilogram of cocaine in his vehicle. Fatukala, Mina, and Yamamoto were arrested in the same week, by law enforcement officers.
According to court records, Fatukala and his conspirators were later released from custody and returned for trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron D. Pennekamp was in charge of prosecuting the case.
The District Court of Eastern California found Fatukala and his group guilty of conspiring to distribute or possessing with intent to distribute cocaine. Fatukala was sentenced to five years in prison; Yamamoto received a 15-month imprisonment sentence; Hollis received a 12-month sentence, and Mina received a time-served sentence.
The successful conviction and investigation of the case were the product of a combined effort from multiple law enforcement agencies. The Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) Task Force included agents from Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The successful investigation and conviction of the “Largomonkey” darknet vendor group highlights the growing capabilities of law enforcement agencies to combat illicit activities on the darknet. The case serves as a reminder that law enforcement is continuously evolving its strategies to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of online criminal activity. As technologies and communication methods advance, law enforcement agencies are also refining their techniques to uncover and disrupt darknet marketplaces.
The arrest of the “Largomonkey” group demonstrates the effectiveness of coordinated international efforts in bringing down darknet vendors and their illicit operations. This successful takedown undoubtedly delivers a significant blow to the current state of darknet markets, sending a clear message to those involved in such activities that they are not beyond the reach of law enforcement. The successful prosecution of the “Largomonkey” group is a testament to the unwavering commitment of law enforcement to disrupt and dismantle darknet marketplaces and bring those responsible to justice.
Hey there, I’m a dark web geek who’s been around for the last 8 years. More precisely, I’m livedarknet’s senior content writer who’s been writing about darknet marketplaces, tutorials, and cybersecurity stuff for educational purposes.