Israeli Man Prihar, Administrator of Dark Web Marketplace DeepDotWeb, Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison in US

An Israeli man will serve eight years in U.S. federal prison for facilitating the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars in drugs, guns and stolen financial information on the dark web.

Tal Prihar was sentenced on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy before Senior U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose last year.

Prihar's initial recommended sentencing range was 11 years in prison, but the judge reduced the sentence based on Prihar's acceptance of responsibility at the time of his initial arrest in France and his agreement not to oppose extradition.

In addition to the prison term, Prihar, who has four children and a wife in Israel, must forfeit nearly $9 million in currency and assets.

Ambrose called the crime serious and complex. "You created shell companies around the world to hide the money you earned," she said.

Prihar and co-defendant Michael Phan operated a website called DeepDotWeb from 2013 to 2019, according to the government. The site was a trading marketplace that provided users with links to conduct illegal transactions anonymously online on the dark web.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Smolar told the court that Prihar and Phan facilitated the sale of illegal drugs, firearms and contraband to hundreds of thousands of users.

They received kickbacks in virtual currency for each purchase. They earned millions of dollars in commissions, she said.

At Tuesday's hearing, Prihar testified that initially he didn't know what he was doing was illegal. But once he knew it was, he continued out of "a search for danger and greed.

Prihar was arrested in France and held there until he agreed to be extradited to the Western District of Pennsylvania. According to his attorney, Michael Comber, he has been held in the United States for 27 months.

At the time of the arrest, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh called it "the single most significant law enforcement disruption of the dark web to date.

Two of the largest online dark web marketplaces, AlphaBay and Hansa, have been seized and shut down by the Justice Department and the FBI.

Prihar apologized at the sentencing hearing and asked that he be given time to serve his sentence so he could return to his family in Israel.

Smolar told the court that serving the sentence "does not help address the seriousness of the crime.

Ambrose agreed that Prihar should not receive a significant reduction in his sentence, although she acknowledged the hardships his family has endured since his arrest.

The case against Phan, who remains in Israel, is pending.

From:On DarkNet – Dark Web News and Analysis
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