Dark web drug site founder to appear in New York court

The Department of Justice in Washington, D.C, on April 16, 2019. [AFP]

A 23-year-old man from Taiwan is set to appear in a New York court Monday on charges of allowing the sale of more than $100 million worth of illegal drugs on a dark web website he allegedly founded.

Rui-Siang Lin was arrested Saturday at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and will be presented in Manhattan federal court on Monday, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Lin is accused of being the architect of Incognito Market, a dark web scheme to traffic deadly drugs to the U.S. and around the world.

“The long arm of the law extends to the dark web, and we will bring to justice those who try to hide their crimes there,” Garland said in the statement on Monday.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said the dark web is “not a safe haven for those who seek to break the law.”

“The dedicated prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and our law enforcement partners will pursue criminal actors regardless of whether they operate on street corners or in the dark corners of the internet,” Williams said in the release.

According to the complaint and indictment, hundreds of kilograms of narcotics, including cocaine and methamphetamines, have been sold on Incognito Market since it was launched in October 2020.

James Smith, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said Lin operated the site for nearly four years and promised anonymity to buyers and sellers of the lethal drugs.

Lin is also alleged to have created a bank for drug dealers. Sellers paid a 5% charge for each sale to Incognito Market, providing Lin with millions of dollars in profits.

If convicted, Lin faces life in prison for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise or narcotics conspiracy.