'Oxymonster' pleads guilty to 'dark web' trafficking charges

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jun 13 2018 12:54 AM

A French-Israeli citizen who was arrested while on his way to a beard and mustache competition in Texas pleaded guilty Tuesday to selling drugs online under the alias "OxyMonster."

Gal Vallerius, 36, arrived in federal court handcuffed and wearing a tan prison uniform and a matching beige yarmulke, but also smiling and joking with his lawyer. He was joined by a Hebrew interpreter. 

Vallerius, who once finished eighth in an international facial hair competition in Austria, sported copious red facial hair held together with a hair band.

The Frenchman is accused of trafficking drugs including cocaine, crack, fentanyl, methamphetamine, LSD, Ritalin and oxycodone on Dream Market, an anonymous online market on the dark underbelly of the internet.

He plead guilty to money laundering and distribution of controlled substances.

Prosecutors suggested a 20-year sentence under a plea agreement reached with Vallerius, but Judge Robert Scola, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 25, has the ultimate decision.

Vallerius agreed to "fully cooperate with the office of the U.S. attorney," meaning he is expected to testify in other cases or even work under cover for law enforcement.

Convicted felons who cooperate with law enforcement can see their sentence reduced by one third.

Vallerius was arrested in August 2017 during a layover in Atlanta while on his way to take part in the World Beard and Mustache Championships (WBMC) in Austin, Texas.

When he was arrested, his laptop was found to be loaded with evidence that Vallerius was "OxyMonster," the administrator of an anonymous online drug market known as Dream Market.

The laptop had a TOR browser that enables anonymous communications as well as log-in credentials for Dream Market, $500,000 worth of bitcoin, and an encryption key that matched OxyMonster's, authorities said.

Under the plea agreement, Vallerius agreed to forfeit all profits from his online sales, including his substantial bitcoin earnings.