01.24.15

Ricin sting: The USPS is not behind the TOR network

Posted in Bioterrorism, Ricin Kooks at 2:27 pm by George Smith

America is ricin happy, mesmerized by the mystique and allure of the poison found in castor seeds. Or at least a very small but unique demographic in it is.

The next item shows the FBI, unsurprisingly, is still looking at black market sites on the “Dark Web.” And, in a first, its agents have conducted a ricin sting, posing as a seller of poisons on one of these sites, allegedly netting a man who wished to buy “ricin pills.” For resale.

Reuters:

A Manhattan man tried to buy the biological toxin ricin from an undercover agent posing as a drug vendor on an online black marketplace, U.S. authorities said in criminal charges unsealed on Tuesday.

The man, Cheng Le, has been in federal custody since he was arrested on Dec. 23 …

The criminal complaint against Le said he used an unidentified black marketplace located within the “dark web,” a space on the Internet in which users’ true identities remain hidden while they communicate. Le allegedly contacted an agent who had taken over an online identity that had been previously used by a trafficker in illicit materials and asked to buy several lethal doses of ricin, a highly potent toxin derived from castor oil plant seeds …

The complaint said Le wanted the agent to send the ricin to a shipping store near his apartment where he maintained a postal box. He appeared to have plans to resell the ricin to buyers looking for ways to commit murder without being detected, and later asked the agent to put the ricin into pill form …

The man was “taken into custody after picking up delivery of a fake ricin pill,” reads a report from the Associated Press.

Apparently it is not widely known that when selling things from the “dark web,” the USPS is not part of the TOR network. And that in cyberspace the old aphorism is still true: Nobody knows if you’re a dog, or in this case, the Department of Justice.

1 Comment

  1. Tom Paterson said,

    January 25, 2015 at 1:26 am

    I’ll be thinking twice before helping the postman by accepting my neighbours’ parcels:

    *Live anthrax was sent by post to Belfast in a laboratory blunder.*

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/anthrax-was-sent-by-post-to-belfast-after-a-laboratory-blunder-30802693.html

    And Belfast wasn’t the only lucky winner:

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/dec/04/-sp-100-safety-breaches-uk-labs-potentially-deadly-diseases

    *One blunder led to live anthrax being sent from a government facility to unsuspecting labs across the UK, a mistake that exposed other scientists to the disease. Another caused the failure of an air handling system that helped contain foot and mouth disease at a large animal lab.*

    Loving the blunder.