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In a move that surprised nobody, the Frenchman accused of running the “Oxymonster” vendor account on Dream successfully delayed his hearing in Florida where he faces a potential life sentence. The defendant, Gal Vallerius, 38, first caught media attention after he had stepped off a plane in Atlanta, Georgia, en route to a beard competition in Texas. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested Vallerius and all 30 centimeters of his beard on dozens of international drug trafficking charges. They had the evidence to support the charges, too. And that evidence has caused a delay in the case; Vallerius has no resources outside of France and his attorney has called the computer crimes “too complex.”
The first delay occurred in 2017. Justice Robert N. Scola, Jr., acknowledged that the evidence had likely overwhelmed Vallerius’ attorney, Anthony J. Natale. Natale told the judge that a cybercrime specialist was needed as the defense had not even come close to examining the entirety of the evidence gathered by federal agents in the United States. And the feds had gathered an unrealistic amount of evidence that weighed heavily in their favor. Although much of the evidence came from an earlier investigation into Vallerius, the most damning evidence—according to DEA agents, came from the laptop the alleged dealer had carried into the United States.
Media outlets have taken a surprising interest in the Oxymonster case. French media outlets have quoted English media outlets that referred to the Frenchman as a “Baron of Drugs” or by the nickname “Pablo Escobar 2.0.” To the best of my knowledge, neither of those terms first appeared in English news outlets. Some sites had taken an interest in the case after learning that the man—an alleged drug kingpin—had flown from France to the United States to participate in a beard competition of sorts. He also played games online that focused heavily on beard metrics that have baffled even the most resourceful journalists.
But darknet market staff, venders, and buyers have taken an interest in the case for several reasons not conferred by the general population. For instance, this man had allegedly worked as a staff member on numerous darknet marketplaces while selling a quantity of opioids that landed him in the center of an investigation by United States law enforcement. Some users asked why markets had allowed a vendor to work for the market (conflict of interest problems). Some noticed that “Oxymonster” had posted on the Dream forums after the arrest had taken place.
Most interesting for many, though, was that Vallerius had allegedly carried a laptop into the the United States that contained Dream account information, PGP keys and corresponding passphrases, Bitcoin wallets and addresses that directly connected Vallerius’ laptop to the Dream vendor and forum moderator “Oxymonster.” This same abundance of information has delayed Vallerius’ hearings on several occasions. In December, the defense attorney requested the hearing be rescheduled for May 2018. The judge agreed to a rescheduled court appearance in mid-January. January fell through after Vallerius failed to suppress evidence pulled from his laptop.
So a federal judge in Miami rescheduled the hearing for the end of May. After another failed attempt at suppressing evidence seized at the border, a Miami judge gracefully rescheduled another hearing in hopes that Vallerius and his attorney would craft a defense of some sort. Vallerius will be back in court in mid-June.