Duo arrested for alleged ‘Dark Web’ drug deals

MERRIMACK – A local couple is in custody after federal agents raided the hotel room in which Brian Knight and Tina Kearns allegedly operated an online drug dealing business utilizing the so-called “Dark Web.”

According to documents unsealed in the U.S. District Court in Concord on Thursday, Knight and Kearns were the target of an investigation into an online drug distribution conspiracy, which resulted in a recent raid of a hotel on Executive Park Drive.

According to Austin Love, a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the couple used a known online criminal marketplace called Dream Market to sell heroin and MDMA.

“The dark web is a subsection of the deep web which is part of the world wide web that is not indexed by traditional search engines,” Love wrote. “The dark web requires specific software, configurations or authorizations to access. Identities and locations of darknet users remain anonymous due to a layered encryption system.”

Investigators had been looking at Dream Market since January, according to Love, before zeroing in on a vendor going by the name of 5th Avenue.

In July, federal agents bought heroin from 5th Avenue using the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. The package sent to federal agents in Florida went through the U.S. Postal Service, and included a tracking number. That tracking number proved to be the downfall for Knight.

Love wrote that agents were able to find the debit card used to pay for shipping through the tracking number Knight put on the package. From there, agents tracked Knight’s debit card to the hotel where he and Kearns kept a room.

During the investigation, Merrimack police received a tip that Knight was telling people he was selling drugs online, and using the Post Office to deliver his merchandise, according to Love.

Agents raided the hotel room on Aug. 27, and arrested Kearns on charges of engaging in a drug distribution conspiracy. Knight was arrested on a sealed warrant issued for a federal court in Florida. Agents found what they believed to be heroin, as well as postal packaging material and other drug-related items, according to court records.

The New Hampshire case was unsealed Thursday in Concord. Kearns was ordered held pending trial, while Knight was sent to Florida authorities.

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or dfisher@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DF.