Why Some Dark Web Dealers Post Photos of Their Drug Labs

“Any publicity is good publicity,” as one brazen black market Xanax dealer told Motherboard.

by Joseph Cox
Sep 8 2016, 7:15pm

Photo: VDex/Shutterstock

The dark web drug trade is already pretty audacious. Dealers, customers, and site administrator operate fairly openly, and anyone can log onto a dark web marketplace and easily place an order for whatever drug they want.

But some brazen dark web dealers are turning that approach up a notch. In the last few days, two vendors have publicly shared what appear to be images from their laboratories or workspaces, potentially exposing identifying details in the process.

On Thursday, Xanax vendor AlpraKing uploaded a series of photos allegedly of their operation.

"This was v4.0. Over 10 million pills were produced there over the course of 9 months," someone in control of the AlpraKing Reddit account wrote. (Helpfully, AlpraKing's thread is entitled "My Lab").

"This was v4.0. Over 10 million pills were produced there over the course of 9 months," AlpraKing writes on Reddit.

Read more: Inside a Dark Web Pill Lab

The reason for uploading these pictures?

"I'd say fan-service. Any publicity is good publicity," AlpraKing told Motherboard in an online message.

"It may seem like a bad choice for a drug dealer, but not so long ago, shipping drugs via mail seemed like a bad choice for a drug dealer as well," AlpraKing continued. "The way things are progressing, you need to operate a drug DNM [darknet market] company the same way you would operating [sic] a legit company. That means more visibility and discussion = more sales."

At first glance, the photos may seem innocuous. There's a shelf of tools and boxes, another of a pile of white bags, and a third of a spacious room containing what looks like pill pressing machines.

But as the independent researcher known as La Moustache pointed out on Twitter, there could be some helpful information for investigators included in these pictures.

"For maximum #OPSEC fail take and post pics of your drug paraphernalia deliveries with Fedex tracking number on them," La Moustache tweeted on Thursday, pointing to a number scribbled on a box in one of the photos, and a screenshot from the FedEx site seemingly showing a successful delivery associated with that identity number.

La Moustache also noted that one of the photos appears to show the dealer's supplier of pharmaceuticals, as well as serial and batch numbers on the product bags.

On Tuesday, another dealer uploaded a video of their alleged employees in their laboratory.

"Featuring: Unknown chinese chemists & dirty lab. (Doesn't affect powder purity)," BenzoChems wrote on Reddit. The video handily has a brief flash of one of the chemist's faces. "Opsec 0/10 but in China no one gives a shit," added BenzoChems, who was unable to be reached for comment in time for publication.

And as we reported back in June, the vendors behind QuantikXanax shared a video of their pill-pressing machine. As the tablets tumble into a bucket, one dealer can be heard saying, "Dollar, dollar, dollar."

Clearly, this sort of digital flexing is becoming more common, and, for some reason, especially with Xanax dealers.

"I don't know why its just the fact with xanax dealers [sic]," AlpraKing told Motherboard. "probably because its a trending drug or that law enforcement don't seem to give it too much attention."

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