They called it the "Farmer's Market" because you could order illicit drugs online—LSD, ecstasy, marijuana—and get what you paid for, farm-to-table, so to speak, according to federal authorities.
But an undercover agent based in Los Angeles ordered LSD, which led to a federal case against several of the marketplace's alleged operators, including 45-year-old Marc Peter Willems of the Netherlands. He was brought to L.A. to face federal charges, and this week he pleaded guilty, U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek confirmed.
It could end up being a lifelong trip in prison for Willems, prosecutors say:
That doesn't seem likely, though.
Willems folded as part of a plea agreement that had him cop to counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to launder money, according to a court filing outlining the deal.
Prosecutors said they would move to dismiss remaining counts.
The internet marketplace, originally called Adamflowers but later known as the Farmer's Market, was operated via Tor software, which allows for anonymous activity online, at least in theory.
Feds caught up with the Farmer's Market anyway, and they say it sold LSD, ecstasy, and marijuana worldwide.
Prosecutors said operators of the marketplace put suppliers in touch with customers and charged the sellers commission.
Customers were instructed to send payment via Western Union to Panamanian bank accounts belonging to people in Budapest, prosecutors said. The commission was then withdrawn via pre-paid debit cards, they said.
Between 2007 and 2012 defendants did more than $2.4 million in revenue, the U.S. Attorney's office said: More than 13,000 online orders were allegedly processed.
At least 29,285 hits of LSD were distributed via the Farmer's Market network, prosecutors said.
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One of the defendants—six others involved in the Farmer's Market have pleaded guilty to conspiracy or have agreed to plead guilty—started a professional relationship with an undercover agent in L.A. in 2009, eventually agreeing to ship thousands of hits of LSD to him, according to the plea agreement.
Before the marketplace was busted, customers allegedly hailed from 45 countries, all 50 states in the union, and Washington, D.C.
More details on this week's plea agreement were expected later today.