The creator of a website that allowed suppliers of LSD, Ecstasy and other drugs to anonymously sell their wares on the Internet was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years behind bars.
Dutch citizen Marc Peter Willems, 45, pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and money laundering conspiracy — federal charges that could have resulted in a life sentence.
U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee said that if Willems had used his skills for legitimate purposes, “he would have been an asset to society,” adding that the case “falls into the ‘what were they thinking?’ category.”
Willems was arrested in April 2012 at his home in the Netherlands and subsequently brought to Los Angeles, where he and seven others linked to the website’s operation faced trial.
The case was filed in Los Angeles because some of the customers and an undercover agent who bought LSD and other drugs through the marketplace are from the area.
Operators of the website — dubbed Farmers Market — provided a “controlled substances storefront, order forms, online forums, customer service and payment methods for the different sources of supply,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“For customers, the operators screened all sources of supply and guaranteed delivery of the illegal drugs,” according to court papers. “The online marketplace handled all communications between the sources of supply and customers. For these services, the operators charged a commission based upon the value of the order.”
From 2007 to 2009 alone, the website processed more than 5,000 orders for drugs valued at more than $1 million. Customers came from some 34 countries and all 50 states, authorities said.
The Farmers Market, previously known as Adamflowers, operated on the Tor network. Tor allows websites and electronic mail communications to mask their Internet address information by spreading communications over a series of computers throughout the world.
The website accepted Western Union, PayPal and cash as payment for illegal drug sales.
Two of Willems’ six co-defendants have been sentenced to prison, and four others are awaiting sentencing on conspiracy charges. A seventh co-defendant has died.