A Bay Shore man out on parole for selling Ecstasy was held without bail Wednesday for dealing in large quantities of the illegal drug under his own brand name on the so-called dark web, according to officials.
Federal agents found 10 kilos of Ecstasy, enough to manufacture 50,000 pills, with a street value of $1.5 million when they arrested Lawrence Ross late Tuesday, according to officials. They also found $35,000 in cash and records indicating he had $250,000 in bitcoins.
Agents also found a quantity of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine in locations that Ross used as stash houses when they arrested him, officials said.
The dark web is a limited-access part of the internet where trading in illegal goods such as drugs is common, and where payment is often made in bitcoins, the virtual currency.
Ross, 39, was convicted in state court of selling Ecstasy and was sentenced to 2 years in prison but released on parole after nine months, Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz said in federal court in Central Islip.
Ross’ attorney, Nancy Bartling of Mineola, said her client “maintains his innocence and we look forward to challenging the legality of the search warrant” in the case.
The investigation into Ross’ operation was jointly carried out by Homeland Security Investigations, the Postal Inspection Service and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, officials said.
It began with information last November that Ross was selling various controlled substances on the dark web under the screen name “Gladyman,” and sending the drugs through the mail, court papers said.
Agents bought Ecstasy and also crystal methamphetamine pills several times through the dark web from Ross, and also surveilled him dropping off packages at the Islip and Bay Shore post offices. Packages addressed to undercover agents were opened and were found to contain illegal drugs, the court papers said.
Also at one point, agents seized a package addressed to Ross that contained a die for a pill press that would create pills labeled “G” on one side and a picture of a lady and the other side, according to court records. “G” is a street name for the narcotic MDMA, which is more commonly known as Ecstasy or Molly.
MDMA is a synthetic drug that is chemically similar in effect to both stimulants and hallucinogens, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It was originally popular in nightclubs and at all-night dance parties known as “raves.” But its illegal use is now more widely spread, the Institute says.