Dark Web Pages

A vendor from New Mexico operating on dark web markets, known as Empire Market, admitted guilt to selling MDMA, methamphetamine, and LSD. Gilberto Melgarejo confessed to conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute in a federal court in Brooklyn. Melgarejo, along with co-conspirator Brooke Gray, ran a vendor account named “TheQueensHive” on Wall Street Market and Empire Market. Gray pleaded guilty on August 10, 2021.

The investigation followed typical dark web investigation procedures. DEA Special Agent Allan Liefke detailed that in 2018, investigators targeted the TheQueensHive account on Wall Street Market. Undercover purchases, surveillance footage, blockchain analysis, subpoenas to financial companies, and open-source intelligence gathering were key investigative methods.

In 2019, undercover agents in New York made several purchases from TheQueensHive account on Wall Street Market. The transactions proceeded as planned, leading to Melgarejo’s identification through postal surveillance. Surveillance footage from the mailing location showed Melgarejo, a Hispanic male, arriving in a silver Honda Civic with a gold foil-wrapped package. He then placed this package into a USPS envelope. Special Agent Liefke confirmed that this gold foil packaging matched the drug packaging received by the DEA after ordering methamphetamine from TheQueensHive via Empire Market.

Public records showed that Gray used a phone number linked to an AT&T account registered to her mother at their residence. The DEA traced Gray’s phone activity from August to September 2019, sending over 300 SMS messages to a specific number.

Cryptocurrency exchange records revealed that the identified number belonged to Melgarejo’s exchange account, with activity also traced to Gray’s account. CenturyLink provided data associating Gray’s IP address with Melgarejo’s cryptocurrency exchange account.

Both individuals were apprehended on November 14, 2019, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While the maximum prison sentence could be life, the actual sentence is expected to be shorter.

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