The trial of Gal Vallerius is set to start in June after failing to take off once again in May. The 39-year-old was arrested in August 2017. The then 38-year-old was nabbed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) at a border search in Atlanta Airport. During the search, his laptop revealed that he was in possession of a bitcoin wallet address worth $500,000 that he used to trade on the darknet.
A multi-agency cooperation led to the Drug Baron of Breton’s capture, after a long joint effort dating back to February 2016. The French resident had flown to the US to participate in the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Austin, Texas. It culminated, however, in his detention when police went through his personal computer. In it, they found Tor software installed that revealed his activities on the darknet. It was further revealed that he was “OxyMonster,” a character on the darknet that authorities had been tracking.
During a hearing in Atlanta, Vallerius did not contest his detention or identity. He was consequently then transferred to Miami where he had a distribution complaint filed against him in the federal court. It is in Miami where he has been remanded since his previous hearing set for January failing to take off. Due to the overwhelming amount of evidence, in this case, the judge has rendered the new for additional counsel on both sides of the system.
He is accused of dealing in large-scale narcotics trafficking on the dark web. He is also said to be an administrator at Dream Market, a leading drug dealing darknet marketplace, a moderator as well as a vendor. But the man popularly referred to as ‘Pablo Escobar 2.0’ by the US media did not only operate on the Dream Market. He was a vendor as well as an administrator in the now-defunct Hansa market. Investigations similarly linked him to shops in Pandora, AlphaBay and SilkRoad.
The joint operation brought together the FBI, IRS, DEA, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations. The investigation into the darknet involved the authorities buying drugs from Dream Market vendors through proxies. They ordered hydrocodone, LSD and crystal meth. During the process, they discovered a post by OxyMonster posted as an announcement by as a senior moderator. It came out that he was an official staff at the marketplace. Continued probing linked OxyMonster and Gal Vallerius through a bitcoin address. Some of the bitcoin payments were made to a wallet belonging to him.
It didn’t stop there. It was further determined that Vallerius had personal social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram. Investigations of his activities on the two sites showed a similarity between them and those of OxyMonster. Both used double exclamations, frequently used cliches and other quotations, intermittent French posts and the word “cheers”. This helped the authorities close in on him.
Over and above selling his merchandise, administrating and moderating the site, Vallerius gave tips and guidance to users on how to stay anonymous. Ironically, his own activities sold him out. Drug dealing was not his only speciality. He also kept a quite distinct beard that he entered into contests. Gal played on an app called ‘Beard wars’ alongside World Beard and Moustache Championships host Bryan Nelson. Upon his arrest, Nelson was able to immediately identify him though they had never met.
Interestingly, Vallarius has opted for a plea bargain, perhaps feeling he is out of options. Anthony Natale, Vallerius’ lawyer, requested to have the affidavit on the access to his computer be removed from the prosecution file but the court declined. Also, the prosecution had evidence of his Ritalin and oxycontin vending on the Hansa site and requested to bring it in as evidence. He wil, therefore,e appear in court on June 12 for his trial where he faces a possible life sentence.
In the face of his drug activities, Gal Vallerius passed for a law abiding citizen. Breton’s mayor, of his Brittany town, received the news of his arrest with surprise. Although Gal drove a Twigo without working, no one really bothered to care. Jonathan, the friend to the championship host, also described him as ‘cheerful and rather cool’ having met him at another contest in Australia.