- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A would-be contestant in this year’s annual World Beard and Moustache Championships is behind bars facing the possibility of life imprisonment after being arrested and charged in connection with helping run a dark web marketplace U.S. federal prosecutors describe as “dedicated and designed” to facilitate drug deals around the globe.

Gal Vallerius, 38, traveled from France to compete in the 2017 beard championship earlier this month in Austin, Texas, but was intercepted by U.S. authorities upon landing at Atlanta International Airport and subsequently charged with a single felony count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

A multi-agency investigation has identified Mr. Vallerius as “OxyMonster,” a vendor and administrator on Dream Market, an online bazaar where customers can use cryptocurrency like Bitcoin to purchase contraband ranging from illicit drugs to counterfeit passports, according to charging documents recently filed in Miami federal court.

OxyMonster’s profile on Dream Market said the vendor shipped OxyContin and Ritalin from France to customers in the Europe and U.S., and as of Aug. 29 the profile boasted 70 verified sales dating back to 2015, Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Austin D. Love wrote in an affidavit obtained by The Washington Times.

The user’s profile and advertisements frequently linked to a Bitcoin address where they accepted payments from customers, and federal investigators tied that address to multiple transactions made to digital wallets controlled by Mr. Vallerius, the affidavit said.

Investigators later found Twitter and Instagram accounts in Mr. Vallerius’ name and discovered several similarities between his social media posts and content attributed to “OxyMonster,” including frequent usage of the word “cheers” and intermittent French posts, according to charging documents.

Ultimately investigators were able to confirm the Frenchman and vendor were one in the same after seizing and inspecting Mr. Valleriu’s laptop after he landed in Atlanta, the documents said. On his computer they found his apparent Dream Market login credentials, $500,000 worth of Bitcoin and file titled “OxyMonster” corresponding to an encryption key advertised on OxyMonster’s postings, among other incriminating evidence, according to the DEA agent.

Dream Market boasted a total of 94,236 listings shortly prior to Mr. Vallerius’ arrest, including 47,405 categorized under “Drugs,” the DEA agent wrote. He only personally sold OxyContin and Ritalin, according to prosecutors, but is charged with conspiracy to distribute in connection administrating a website offering drugs ranging from LSD to heroin.

A public defender listed as Mr. Vallerius’ attorney did not immediately return an email seeking comment, The Herald reported.

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