The US crackdown on Fentanyl vendors continues in full swing as they group together additional fentanyl dealers every day. This time we’re seeing the result of a darknet vendor operation against the vendor “DopeKingUSA” from AlphaBay. As a result, this vendor will spend the next 13 years behind bars. Let’s look at the case of Craig Warme.
On Thursday, June 8, Craig Warme received a 156 month (13 years) sentence after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute fentanyl. In addition, Warme will be under parole for a further three years following his release. Craig Warme was revealed to be the darknet vendor “DopeKingUSA”, a popular opioid vendor from the new exit scammed “AlphaBay” marketplace.
Warme became popular very quickly in the darknet space, and although his Darknet Vendor stint only lasted about 7 months (From June to December 2022) Warme earned himself some $417,355. He sold various forms of Heroin and sent fentanyl to many of his customers instead of heroin. Warme made a name for himself on the AlphaBay marketplace, and according to court records, shipped more than 10 kilograms of Fentanyl using the USPS.
“Foolishly, Mr. Warme thought he could illegally operate an online store on the dark web trafficking poison across our state and country. My office will hold traffickers peddling drugs accountable.”U.S Attorney Totten.
So how did the US capture Warme?
The USPS has taken credit for capturing Warme, but is this the full story?
According to a USPS representative
“This investigation and resulting sentence imposed today on Craig Warme is a testament to the commitment postal inspectors and our law enforcement partners have to identify and seeking prosecution of individuals who are deliberately distributing deadly fentanyl into our communities. The Postal Inspection Service is committed to combatting the opioid and fentanyl epidemic by pursuing drug traffickers who attempt to exploit the distribution channels of the Postal Service while wrongly believing the dark web allows them to engage in criminal activity with anonymity.”
Unfortunately, there is little explanation given by the USPS on how they managed to capture Warme. We know the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) worked alongside the USPS in this investigation, and things may be quite straight forwards regarding the case. They undercover investigators in Grand Rapids, ordered a Heroin package, and captured the package and its sender easily, this giving them the name of the vendor, and what he was selling.
According to the DOJ, Investigators determined that the drugs that Warme provided were actually fentanyl, not heroin, as advertised.
“This investigation clearly demonstrates the dark web does not provide a safe haven from which criminals can anonymously distribute fentanyl and other illicit drugs. DEA and our partners will relentlessly pursue individuals like Mr. Warme, no matter where they operate or the means by which they distribute their illicit and deadly products.”DEA Special Agent in Charge Orville Greene.
Failed OpSec Gives LE Confidence.
It seems that Warme failed to follow a few OpSec guidelines as a vendor leading to an easy capture. The Darknet Market is a multi-billion dollar industry, in the US, millions of packages filled with drugs make it through regularly, with just a few being stopped.
See 92 per cent of all drug packages in the US go through the USPS. Most of these packages will have K9 units walk by without any issue. But in the case of Warme, he failed to wrap the packages, making his packages easy to find.
One win among thousands of losses and the DOJ believes they’re winning. They have the confidence and make claims about their abilities to dismantle darknet operations, when in reality they’re waiting for simple mistakes in hopes to take vendors down.
Sam Bent aka DoingFedTime, added his two cents into Warme’s case
“Despite their bold assertions, law enforcement agencies are vastly outnumbered and often ill-equipped to effectively navigate this shadowy digital landscape… The reality is that law enforcement’s sporadic successes, like Warme’s arrest, are drops in an ocean of illicit darknet transactions.”Sam Bent aka DoingFedTime
Craig Warme, AKA DopeKingUSA, made mistakes, but perhaps rightfully. He was selling fentanyl disguised as heroin. This could have major ramifications on his clients and even could have taken their lives.
Additionally, failure to follow simple OpSec as a vendor is a result of his own failures. He’s lucky to get away with a thirteen-year sentence.
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.