'Dark web' investigation leads to arrest of Marlboro man

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KEENE, N.H. — A Keene man, agreeing to work with federal agents, supplied information that led to the arrest of a Marlboro, Vermont man on drug charges.

After the Keene man, identified as CI-1 in court documents, was taken into custody on March 27, he told agents with Homeland Security Investigations that he had been in communication with Marcus Shapiro, 21, of Marlboro, via Snapchat, which they used to arrange the transfer of a drug known as MDMA.

According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire, on March 28, Shapiro arranged via Snapchat to purchase Ecstasy and MDMA from the confidential informant for delivery on April 4.

The day before the April 4 sale, Shapiro sent another Snapchat message to the confidential informant, requesting between 200 and 300 30mg Percocet pills. Percocet is a branded opioid pain reliever containing oxycodone.

Shapiro and the confidential informant agreed to a transfer of 60 Percocet pills, 250 Ecstasy pills and an ounce of MDMA for $3,500 at the Shell Station on Route 9 in West Chesterfield, just across the river from Brattleboro.

Following the transfer, Shapiro was arrested by Keene police and cited with possession of a controlled drug. He was scheduled to appear in Cheshire Superior Court on Thursday for arraignment. The charges in federal court, for attempted possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, were also filed on Thursday.

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Homeland Security began its investigation after receiving information that the Keene man "was receiving packages of controlled substances through the mail in a manner that suggested that the controlled substances were being ordered via the 'dark web' ..."

The court documents describe the dark web as "a portion of the world wide web that requires special software to access and is not indexed by search engines such as Google." The dark web is used to sell "[v]arious types of contraband ... and paid for using cryptocurrency, a digital, decentralized asset that relies on cryptography to facilitate its exchange from one user to another."

According to the documents, the confidential informant was the intended recipient of a number of packages that were inspected by customs or the postal service and found to contain MDMA, also known as Molly. When MDMA is in pill form, it is called Ecstasy.

During April 27 search warrants for two residences associated with the informant, agents seized electronic devices "that contained evidence of the use of the dark web and cryptocurrency."

The confidential informant was taken into custody "and agreed to assist law enforcement in further investigation of drug distribution activity." According to the court document, the man "has a prior conviction for dissemination of private sexual images and agreed to cooperate in mitigation of his own criminal liability in connection with this investigation."

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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