Men arrested for dark web operation

Three Nanaimo men accused of running a cryptocurrency-funded drug trafficking ring on the dark web are facing more than two dozen drug charges.

Kien Trung Pham, Kerry Chang, and Gordon Brooks were arrested in February 2020 following a year-long investigation into a crime group operating in the dark web hawking a large variety of illicit drugs through a seller that used the alias AlwaysOverweight.

“The dark web is just one of the tools that organized crime uses to avoid detection, and so police need to continuously evolve their technical capabilities to stem the flow of toxic drugs into our communities,” said Supt. Richard Bergevin of the B.C. RCMP in a statement on Tuesday.

RCMP allege AlwaysOverweight used cryptocurrency and encrypted messaging applications to anonymously traffic drugs, including methamphetamine, oxycodone, cocaine, MDMA, Xanax, and fentanyl mixed with other cutting agents advertised as heroin.

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During the investigation, the RCMP’s federal serious and organized crime unit was able to get through the group’s digital barriers and identified a Nanaimo address as the seller’s physical location. The investigation into the group’s online activities broadened to include street-level drug deals, said RCMP.

On Feb. 4, 2020, Mounties searched two Nanaimo homes. Police seized drugs, packaging, mailing envelopes, cash, computer and data storage devices.

Pham was charged with 15 counts of drug trafficking and drug possession, while Brooks faces 14 charges. Chang faces one charge of trafficking a controlled substance.

The three men are scheduled to appear in Nanaimo provincial court on June 7.