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"Incognito Market" founder arrested at JFK airport, accused of selling $100 million of illegal drugs on the dark web

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A 23-year-old man from Taiwan has been arrested on charges of selling at least $100 million worth of illegal drugs online through a site on the dark web known as the "Incognito Market."

Rui-Siang Lin, also known as "Pharoah," was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Saturday and was to appear in court on Monday, the Justice Department said, calling it "one of the largest illegal narcotics marketplaces on the internet."

"As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin was the architect of Incognito, a $100 million dark web scheme to traffic deadly drugs to the United States and around the world," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

Incognito Market, which was shut down in March, was an online dark web marketplace that allowed users to buy and sell illegal drugs anonymously, according to the Justice Department.

Hundreds of pounds of cocaine, methamphetamines and other drugs were sold on Incognito Market since its launch in October 2020, it said.

"Under the promise of anonymity, Lin's alleged operation offered the purchase of lethal drugs and fraudulent prescription medication on a global scale," said James Smith, an assistant director in the FBI's New York office.

Users of Incognito Market were able to search thousands of listings for illegal narcotics, including heroin, cocaine, LSD, MDMA, oxycodone, methamphetamines, ketamine, and alprazolam.

Incognito Market included "many features of legitimate e-commerce sites such as branding, advertising, and customer service," the Justice Department said. The indictment includes several images from the site, including its splash page.

 "Incognito Market" users were met by a splash page and graphic interface, the Justice Department said. Justice Department

Vendors paid five percent of the purchase price of every sale to "Incognito Market," providing Lin with millions of dollars of profits, the Justice Department said.

Lin faces up to life in prison if convicted of narcotics conspiracy.

Taipei's foreign ministry spokesman Jeff Liu said during a regular briefing Tuesday that Lin had been working since November at Taiwan's embassy in St Lucia, an eastern Caribbean nation that is one of the Asian island's few allies.

He had applied to work as part of the embassy's technical corps in lieu of military service -- mandatory for Taiwanese men -- and had "behaved normally."

Expected to be discharged in July, Lin applied for leave and left St Lucia on May 18, Liu said.

He "was scheduled to go to Singapore via New York when he was arrested by the police in New York," he said, adding that Taiwan was closely monitoring the case.

"This arrest underscores the dedicated, ongoing efforts of law enforcement to identify and dismantle illicit drug networks operating from every shadowy recess of the marketplace," NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban said in a statement.

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