Indictment: Washington teen drug dealers thrived on 'darknet'
SEATTLE -- Two Washington young men accused of using the deep web to traffic ecstasy and other drugs face federal charges.
Federal prosecutors contend Boden Gregory Bridge and Tristan Simpson Brennand conspired to mail Xanax and MDMA - better known by the street name ecstasy - to buyers around the country. The men, now in their early 20s, are alleged to have begun dealing as teens.
In January 2014, an informant working with federal investigators told agents Brennand had been shipping drugs to customers shopping in an online black market. According to court papers, the informant said Brennand, now 21, sold through two "darknet" websites - Agora and Evolution - accessible only through Tor, an anonymizing network running parallel to the Internet.
Tor is structured to prevent surveillance, and has been celebrated by privacy activists while drawing criticism for enabling illegal activity. Recently, federal agents in Seattle and elsewhere targeted the operators of the Silk Road online black market, accusing them of selling drugs through the Tor network.
Writing in a sworn statement, a U.S. Postal Inspection Service postal inspector agent said the informant reported that Brennand bought pounds of ecstasy from a source in Germany. The informant also claimed Brennand was receiving thousands of Xanax tablets from India, as well as marijuana and hash oil from wholesalers in the United States.
Brennand worked as a middleman, mailing the drugs to customers who bought them through Agora and Evolution, the postal inspector said in a search warrant affidavit filed in March. The Olympia resident is alleged to have packaged and sent shipments using fake address information.
In February, agents seized several packages they contend had been shipped by Brennand. An indictment followed 10 months later, and Brennand was arrested Dec. 4. Also indicted was Boden Gregory Bridge, who is alleged to have joined Brennand in the scheme.
Indicted in December, Bridge, now 20, and Brennand have each been charged with conspiring to deal drugs and related offenses. Bridge is alleged to have distributed MDMA from Kent and Renton; he is also accused of possessing a .45 cal. pistol as part of a drug trafficking crime.
Bridge and Brennand have pleaded not guilty. Both men were initially released on bond, though Brennand has since been jailed again. According to court records, he was caught using heroin and marijuana.