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Taiwanese man arrested in U.S. for alleged online drug sales

05/21/2024 05:47 PM
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Image from Pixabay for illustrative purpose only
Image from Pixabay for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) confirmed Tuesday that a Taiwanese man, who was sent to serve in Taiwan's Technical Mission to Saint Lucia in 2023, was arrested in the United States for allegedly setting up an online drug sales platform.

The man, surnamed Lin (林) who was scheduled to finish his stint in St. Lucia on July 4 of this year, is currently being investigated in the U.S., MOFA said, and it is closely monitoring the progress of the investigation.

Media reports indicated that the 23-year-old Lin was arrested in the U.S. for allegedly selling drugs on a dark web platform named "Incognito Market," which he himself established.

At a routine press briefing, MOFA spokesperson Liu Yung-chien (劉永健) said that according to information available to the ministry, Lin was arrested on May 19 in New York while in transit for allegedly setting up an online drug sales platform.

Lin was in St. Lucia after applying to perform alternative military service in 2023 based on his information technology expertise, Liu said.

He was sent to the Caribbean island country on Nov. 3 after passing a review and had behaved normally during his service there, cooperating fully with the work of the technical mission, Liu said.

Before the end of his term, Lin took an approved vacation and left St. Lucia on May 18, Liu said. He was transiting through New York on his way to Singapore when he was arrested by the police on May 19.

In a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday (local time), Attorney General Merrick Garland described Incognito Market as a dark web scheme to traffic deadly drugs to the U.S. and the world.

The statement said Incognito Market was formed in October 2020 and was closed in March this year after having sold more than $100 million of narcotics -- including hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamines, the statement said.

In exchange for listing and selling narcotics on the platform, narcotics suppliers paid a commission of 5 percent of their sales to Incognito Market, the statement said.

That revenue funded Incognito Market's operations, including for computer servers and "employee" salaries, while Lin also collected millions of dollars in profits, the statement said.

If convicted, Lin faces a mandatory minimum penalty of life in prison for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, it said.

(By Yeh Su-ping and Evelyn Yang)

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