When he travelled to the United States in 2017, dark-web drug baron Gal Vallerius thought it was going to be just another day for his life. He had planned to take part in the World Beard and Mustache Championships in Austin, Texas. He was interested in being part of hundreds of contestants who had turned up to show off their beards. However, the Feds had a different ideas. They busted him and now, reports say he’s set to plead guilty and face 20 years or more in federal prison.
U.S. Federal agents assessed that the 39-year old Frenchman was one of the most notorious drug dealers accessing the deep web. He used the moniker “OxyMonster,” and was an administrator for Dream Market.
When the DEA agents searched Gal’s belongings, they found a laptop that contained a private PGP key. It belonged to a Dream and TradeRoute vendor, login details as well as a half million dollars’ worth of bitcoin.
Vallerius interception in Atlanta was neither a misfortune nor a stroke of luck that happened after an ordinary search on international travelers. He had been targeted by the authorities after being listed by the Drug Enforcement Administration in January 2017. OxyMonster, together with two other vendors, were being investigated in operations ReximusMaximus, DigitalPossi2014 as well as MethForDummies. Then, according to DEA agent Austin Love, the focus shifted towards Vallerius.
Vallerius, however, did not know that the American authorities had been investigating him and had always been looking forward for a chance to bust him. According to agent Austin, it wasn’t hard for the officers to link the bearded Vallerius to OxyMonster. Oxygen Crime Time reports that his face was easy to match due to his ‘distinctive long red beard’.
After alighting from his flight in Atlanta, the agents performed ‘a special border search’ on him. They checked his personal effects and electronics without any warrant.
It was in that process that they found a laptop, smartphone, tablet as well as their passwords. The court documents state that Vallerius gave all that information to them. Then, they used that it to tie him to OxyMonster.
OxyMonster had been a Senior Moderator on Dream with access to several other darknet marketplaces. He had also been one of the administrators of Evo. His profile stated that he’d made 60 sales and had received five star ratings from his clients. Again, he used the profile to boast as a vendor who ‘ships from France to anywhere in Europe’.
Agent Austin hints that prior to the search at the airport, the Feds had investigated OxyMonster’s secure profile and bitcoin address which linked to a LocalBitcoin address with the name Vallerius. After searching out on social media, they found profiles on Instagram and other platforms that corresponded to the pictures as well as writing style of Vallerius. This is how they were able to start finding out who exactly he was.
In December 2017, Gal Vallerius and his lawyer pushed to postpone the hearing from December to June 2018. He argued that the case involved ‘all the complexity of the internet’. Anthony J Natale, the defense lawyer, insisted that the court needed the help of a computer expert to understand the evidence presented by the U.S. enforcement.
In April, Natale asserted that the special search at the border was illegal. He sought to have the evidence thrown out. The federal court hearing that sought to advice on the legality of the search and evidence turned down his request.
Vallerius was facing a life sentence last summer on an indictment. However, his attorney worked on critical viewpoints of the case to help keep the Frenchman from the horrible ruling. Court records state that Natale and the U.S. attorney’s office ‘cut a deal’ to spare Vallerius from life imprisonment. Both sides have declined to comment on the deal awaiting the June 12 hearing.