In August of 2017, a Frenchman with a bright orange beard reaching his bellybutton touched down in the Atlanta airport en route to an international beard-growing contest in Austin. But before he could show off his lengthy man mane, federal agents arrested him—booking him on the suspicion that he was a top dog at one of the biggest drug trafficking sites on the dark web.
On Tuesday, Gal Vallerius pleaded guilty to the charges against him, admitting that—under the pseudonym "OxyMonster"—he helped run a massive online drug market, overseeing the sales of kilos worth of coke, meth, heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, and more, the Associated Press reports.
According to prosecutors, the 36-year-old got his start on the Dream Market—a bitcoin-based drug marketplace similar to the now-shuttered Silk Road—as a low-level vendor selling Ritalin and oxycodone to clients across the globe. From 2013 to 2017, he then "rose through the ranks," eventually making it up to the role of "senior moderator," helping to facilitate purchases and run the site's forums, according to court documents.
Apparently Vallerius's work with the site, which took a commission on every transaction, proved pretty lucrative. The feds found more than $500,000 in bitcoin on his laptop when they confiscated it in Atlanta, the Miami Herald reports.
Vallerius cut a plea deal to avoid spending the rest of his life behind bars, and now faces up to 20 years in prison in exchange for sharing information with the DEA. According to the Herald, he's still got that massive beard, which he wore to his hearing on Tuesday—but, obviously, it won't be headed to competition any time soon. That's somewhat of a bummer for competitive beard growers like MJ Johnson, who told the Guardian Vallerius "always seemed like a fun, carefree person."
"I don’t know anything about what other stuff he did," Johnson said, "but as far as his beard goes, it’s really awesome, long, and bright red."
Vallerius should have a whole lot of time on his hands, so who knows—maybe he can start his own beard-growing league behind bars.
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