Posted by: Allen Hoffmann, JD
March 23, 2015
So, you’ve taken the plunge and you’ve decided to buy something, be it a dime bag of kush or a fully automatic Kalashnikov from a dark market. How will you receive it? Will you set up a dead drop with your seller? Even though he was allegedly a vendor on a dark market, and not a buyer, you can ask Jesse Korff, who is looking down the barrel of some serious time for, in addition to selling Ricin and Abrin to buyers in India, Austria, the UK, Denmark and Canada, (some of whom are also looking at time at this point too) and conspiring to kill people in foreign countries with those buyers, also hooking up an undercover federal agent with Abrin. It bears thinking about whether he used PGP with his clients and if so, if it was then busted up by the HSI investigation which followed, but I digress – remember kids, learn PGP and USE IT. How did he get caught? Surveillance at a dead drop agreed on with an undercover HSI agent identified him pretty cleanly doing a drop off of product. Smooth, huh? You can read all about Jesse here and here.
All told, unless you happen to be involved in transport and logistics to the extent that you can charter your on plane, if you are receiving physical product, whether its coming from across town or across the globe, you are going to need somewhere for it to be sent, and its likely to arrive via a postal or courier service of some description. If you happen to live alone/with people who aren’t prone to opening your mail, and you haven’t ever come to anyone’s attention before (read – you the 95% of dark web users with a job and a normal life and you like to take a stroll over to the darkside from time to time, and you couldn’t get an 8 ball from anyone in your phone’s contact list if you tried) you could, theoretically, have a really good option – you can, provided you do your ordering, etc, of nefarious goods from somewhere away from home, don’t use TOR on computers tied to you, and buy your BTC for cash, and generally keep your house clean/let no intelligence exist which suggests you use drugs or hand grenades, you could just, shock and horror, order it to yourself. I’m sure a few people are thinking ‘Allen, are you a fucking imbecile?’ – but no, I’m not. I’ve seen this tactic used both where an ounce of weed was involved, and where a large quantity of white powder was involved. Both beat both the rap and the ride.
In the first instance, it was a small town matter, and as soon as the guy grabbed the parcel out of his mail box, a couple of detectives jumped out of their Caprice across the road like they were in Hawaii 5-0 plus 40 pounds apiece, arresting some king pin, screaming ‘what’s that thurr package?’. This guy simply said he had absolutely no idea where the package came from, he wasn’t expecting anything. When the cops tried to get heavy and coerce further information, he exercised his right to silence straight up. They didn’t even have enough to book him, but they took the package with them. Story concluded. Same sort of deal with the white powder, but I won’t give too many details on that one, but that team came to the notice of federal agencies for an importation. Obviously, those agencies had a real good idea of what was up due to a couple of coincidences, but as you’ve heard me say so many times before, intelligence and evidence are different things, and it ain’t what you know – its what you can prove. Bottom line – each package in the above two stories had been intercepted in transit, rather than being detected in advance through intelligence development, so they had to ‘back investigate’.
The result was that LE had to work backwards in each instance first. In the small town matter, they simply didn’t have the resources (and if they did have the resources, they didn’t give enough of a shit to dig back) to track back through the supplier, and in the white powder matter, they hit dead ends. Remember, if there’s nothing to be found, no matter how hard someone digs, they won’t find shit. Assuming your activities and logistics won’t be examined later is a potentially fatal mistake. Unless its proven that I know or have a damn good idea that I am in possession of illicit goods when I go to my mail box, combined with other evidence, the cops have shit – and if your keep a clean house, don’t talk on phones or do incriminating shit on computers tied to you, then the ‘cops have shit’ thing is covered. Cops press harder? Lawyer up, shut your mouth and let them build their case, which, if there is no pathway to payment for the goods or communications implicating you in purchasing the goods, a losing deal – the DA will laugh at. Good luck to them – they would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it either wasn’t a mix up by the drug dealer who they may or may not have identified, someone trying to steal the mail outta your box, or someone bent on revenge against you, like an ex, or some retard you bullied in school. All are feasible alternatives to you mysteriously conjuring drugs into the mail addressed to you without having (evidential demonstrably) sought to acquire or pay for them.
The above story does not apply if your day job includes being a stick up man or kiting checks, because there’s a good chance you’ve already attracted surveillance of some kind which can help corroborate your moonlighting in the darkweb world. You’re probably already a little past being able to claim innocence/invoke your right to silence, and they will work you infinitely harder. Same deal if you live with parents who will find you getting mail unusual, or ratchet roommates who like to open each others shit – they might keep it for themselves or they might snitch. Also, if you receive lots of packages, even the most tolerant people end up being suspicious. So, what can you do?
Remember, I write for best practice. I write for those who view a conviction as a life altering event either because it will cost them their job, or because it might be their third strike, rather than a badge of honor, and if your attitude is YOLO and you’re thinking facial or neck tattoos are a great idea in terms of your employment prospects in middle class society, cease reading now – order from your home computer, pay for your BTC using your bank account, and buy a new toothbrush in anticipation of doing some time, cause its all probably just too hard. If you have a family, are contemplating having one and like the idea of avoiding run ins with the state in the first place, or you used to live like a junkie or a retard and want to avoid getting hooked and booked again, keep reading.
You have to take a risk based approach to anything you do. Being a person who may end up coming to police attention, whether you’re young or old, is about 20 times more dangerous than it used to be in terms of seeing your alleged indiscretion land up for determination before a guy in a robe, or a jury of your peers. Dashcams and accountability are a two edged sword. A cop will follow procedure and book you these days if you get caught doing stupid shit, because he has to – I got an ass kicking which saved me a record, and the cop the paperwork, booking time and court appearance, a couple of times in my youth. These days, the stakes are infinitely higher, especially if you’re getting into the global side of the dark web – that LSD you’re buying from Europe makes you a drug importer, whether you’re fully aware of the ramifications or not. Throwing your hands in the air before a sentencing judge and being like ‘it was just a couple of tabs, maaaaaaan’ does not really help your cause.
So, maybe you’ve come to police notice before for stuff which may have a dark web flavour to it, whether a couple of times or you’re on a first name basis with the local investigators who come around and shake your tree whenever they’re on your block, or you don’t think you’d be able to hold your nerve if things go wrong and your Dutch speed (great marketing approach, some of the marketers come up with on the dark web) gets caught in the mail. Whether your paranoia is imaginary or justified, you have made the informed decision to get your shit sent somewhere else than home.
On the dark markets, a wide range of individuals sell fake IDs. Buy one. Man up, get it sent to you, dogs aren’t sniffing for PVC in the mail. Live with your folks? On parole? Go down to your local bodega (or equivalent), and give the guy $20 to receive an envelope, tell him it’s a love letter from your gay lover and you have a hyper religious family if you want. A little social engineering goes a long, long way, and this was a tactic I personally used, minus the gay love letter part, with the Vietnamese owner of a store a ways from home when I was in my teens and needed to get something in the mail in my early teens without anyone knowing at home. (sidebar – I was a precocious shit head). The take home message, hypothetically speaking? Get the damn ID.
Getting a drop in different countries, and going pro – using limited LE resources to your advantage
So, now you have a fake ID. What will you do with it? You’ll go and rent a P.O. Box with it. If you’re someone who has an idea involving making multiple small purchases, you should now order a few more IDs. perhaps you live in a small town and you have elected to be the local ‘hook up’ for a wide range of goods, or perhaps you’re a drug pig, whatever, I’m not judging you. Any state of the union is fine provided you don’t order one to use in the same state as the ID, for two reasons. First, I don’t give a shit what a vendor tells you, a fake ID is not good enough to use in state. Period. Two, your DL says you’re from across the country, it’s a very good pretext to allay the concerns of even the most crotchety old witch behind the counter at MBE– ‘I live in X, but I’m working over here in Y right now, moving around a lot, so I need somewhere regular to receive my mail is all’.
Do you live in England? The post office boxes provided by Royal Post are an absolute bent over fuck you in the ass rip off, but if you want to use one, an ID from anywhere in Europe will cut it, and you can get cheap French national IDs on most markets at present, as the French national ID is a laminated card which didn’t get an update for over 10 years. You can always use a mail forwarding/mail holding service by one of any of the countless services which offer ‘registered office addresses’ which you’ll find on Google, they will accept a scan of ‘your ID’, and when its time to pick up the mail, you can roll up dressed as a bike courier, or hire a real one for cash and have him meet you across town (whilst you sit outside the registered address service and see if he gets jumped by ninja cops on the way in or out). Are you from Australia? Aussie fake IDs have been doing the rounds for a few years now. The old laminated QLD IDs are now out of validity or close to it, so don’t cheap out – by a NSW or a Victorian one, and remember the ‘don’t use in state’ rule, because neither version I’ve seen is perfect. Australia Post’s boxes are cheap as shit early in the year if you only need them a couple of months, but remember to go only to actual government owned outlets for your boxes – they won’t take a photocopy of your ID, whereas most privately run AP outlets will, even if its against their rules. For the sake of brevity when it comes to elsewhere in Europe (there’s a lot of rules in a lot of different post offices), in some parts of continental Europe, apartment buildings have the mailboxes inside with names on them, not numbers – mail is addressed to the person, at the building number. Its then up to the postal worker to read the name on each box and put the letter in. If the building doesn’t have a concierge and a front door which is seldom locked, why not add another box with another name on it?
So, now you can get things sent to your drop, congratulations. But what if you’re concerned about ending up surveilled?
In theory, when you use an alternate name and address, however you may do it, you are mitigating your risk – its not getting sent to your house, its not in your name, what’s the risk, right? In practical terms, you are now stepping up a notch from ‘its not mine, don’t know what you’re talking about’ if something gets grabbed en route to your place with your name on it. You get caught on surveillance at your drop using a fake name/with a fake ID, we have stepped from ‘well, we think he did it, we just don’t know how/we can’t prove it’ into what I would refer to as ‘prima facie up to no good’ territory. You are already committing an offence falsifying the mail form, plus the fake ID in the US. If one is committed to this course of action for whatever reason, then what exactly does a pro do, then?
If you spread yourself widely and have patience, it’s a very powerful way to mitigate your risk, thanks to the very finite resources of LE who must surveil you in order to make a case. The trick is, you let your package wait for you for a while, and you give yourself an advantage which LE does not have – time.
How do you do that? Well, you need to think about your volume of mail, and how much you need to receive. Also, consider how much capital you can let run, and how long the auto finalize will take on your market place. Are you considering going pro to semi pro and selling/reselling locally or online? Do you have a serious smack habit that needs to be serviced regularly so you don’t get fucking sick, but you have a job which can give you the breathing room you need to not be climbing in and out of windows on a regular basis lifting grandma’s jewellery? Here’s where we multiply the odds in our favor and kill 5-0’s capacity to mount a successful surveillance operation, should we hit worst case scenario – using the bureaucracy of LE to its detriment is a sweet, beautiful and enjoyable concept indeed.
Imagine I am a middle aged cop, middle management type, who has a wide array of shit to deal with on a daily basis – heart attack waiting to happen, divorced, commander riding my ass, retard kids underneath me, primarily statistics motivated. I receive information from my USPS contact that they’ve grabbed a package of goodies addressed to a P.O. box. USPS hands me the form, I run the information, its all fake. Whilst this is not the crime of the century, your quarter pound of Indica is enough to arouse my contempt and desire to get the collar and an easy bump to my stats, whether I believe in the drug war or not. I have a variety of other competing operational priorities at this moment in time. Should I allocate a surveillance team to this? Yeah, ok, why not, let em sit on it a couple days. Imagine again I am a USPS investigator. Same scenario. Yeah, sure, I can free up my surveillance guys. But for how long? A week? Perhaps. Two weeks? Potentially? But am I likely to have some new operational priority come up after that if our boy looks like a no show? You bet.
If you are not in the kilo range, resources are not likely to be made available at a federal level to sit on you drop until you show up. So if you need to talk quantity or a constant flow (or even both) on a month to month basis, the solution would, hypothetically speaking, be to compel any adversary to spread their resources thinly, and even to consider running your operations in under resourced regions. Think about it – do you think surveillance teams in Des Moines are as well-resourced or trained as those in LA County?
So here’s your hypothetical plan of attack – you open 4 P.O. Boxes and send orders to each on a cycle of intervals evenly spaced, and you give yourself plenty of time between pick ups to make the lives of those who are working on you (provided that they indeed are) that much harder.
If you’re clocking 4 packages a month, for example, instead of sending them all to one place and making you regular as clockwork to grab or at least watch you and build a case, you can give yourself a four week gap between each drop receiving a parcel (which are not yet linked, because you have used 4 separate IDs). If you are prepared to let that package wait a couple weeks (see? Patience is key – being in a rush has no place in anything I would hypothetically suggest), pull your car up a couple blocks away every time you go to check it (being sure you encounter no ATMs or other places likely to have externally pointed CCTV cameras on the way) and go in and out for your mail, the chances of surveillance getting you is damn low. Your first month will be a waiting game, as you let your packages sit and wait. Thereafter, you’re in business, and you know if you find an empty box or something out of the ordinary one day, you can walk away, taking your circuitous route back to the car, and fill that gap in your ‘receiving matrix’ with a new one.
The simple reality is, cops are not prepared to sit on surveillance for operations which aren’t paying dividends. People in cars or stores watching and waiting are a whole lot more expensive than a phone tap.
It’s a simple numbers game, and it applies to physical surveillance operations generally speaking. Mr heart attack waiting to happen cop has to justify to people higher up why he is using resources on a job which is not paying off. When you do eventually appear, the guy at the post office isn’t gonna jump the counter and make a citizen’s arrest, s/he’s been told to note your details and maybe get your plate if surveillance gave up on you. But think about it – visit a box one time a month, in four different places, or visit one box a week. Where are you more likely to run into dudes in trench coats talking to their wrists? Its straight up, simple numbers. Use them to your advantage.