A man accused of selling $1.4 million in cocaine and marijuana on the Internet was detected after authorities discovered his online password was “asshole209.”
David Ryan Burchard was arrested in March, 2016, and pleaded not guilty to nearly 20 counts of drug and money laundering.
The numbers in the password “asshole209” are the area code of the larger locality in California where Burchard resides. The relatively simple password allowed his encrypted communications to be intelligible by investigators.
Law enforcement first started tracking Buchard, who lived in Merced, Calif., in early 2015. After a few months of surveillance, special agent of Homeland Securities Investigations (HSI) Matthew Larsen discovered Burchard filed an application for a U.S. trademark, according to Ars Technica.
Buchard apparently wanted to own the name “CALI CONNECT” in order to sell t-shirts and “hooded sweat shirts.”
Larsen searched Silk Road, an online black market where users organize the transactions of illicit goods. There he found “Caliconnect” on a list of wanted Silk Road vendors that were provided by HSI.
The “Caliconnect” entry also showed multiple U.S. Postal Service tracking numbers.
“I observed that all the post offices utilized to send the parcels are located within the Central Valley of California, near the home of BURCHARD, who resides in Merced, California,” Larsen wrote on page 13 of the affidavit.
Accounts with similar names to “Caliconnect” like “the_real_caliconnect” were discovered on other markets like Agora, Abraxas and AlphaBay. Agora data revealed that “the_real_caliconnect” sold roughly 470 pounds of marijuana through approximately 1,000 separate transactions.
Law enforcement acquired a search warrant for Burchard’s residence and raided the home. They “seized numerous items associated with the distribution of narcotics, including anti-static bags, a digital scale, food saver vacuum sealing bags; Amazon boxes with plastic storage bags; a trash bag containing marijuana, a box containing a sealed bag of marijuana.” They also found pieces of clothing apparel with the label “caliconnect.”
After a forensic team inspected a confiscated laptop, they found that a “black and gold ‘Caliconnect’ logo” was currently being used by Burchard on AlphaBay.
Burchard denied selling marijuana through online black markets and said Caliconnect was the name of his clothing business.
Anthony Capozzi, Buchard’s lawyer, told Ars Technica that “we received thousands of pages of discovery, and I haven’t gone through [them] yet” and that “it’s too early on” to see how this case will proceed. This is Capozzi’s first case dealing with digital currency, Ars Technica reports, as this nascent area of law is just starting to make its way into legal battles.
Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison during the time of these ongoing investigations.
“With a sales volume at approximately $1,250,248.65 … The FBI estimates that “caliconnect” was the eighteenth largest vendor worldwide out of approximately 4,000 vendors who sold goods on the Silk Road,” the affidavit reads.
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