Three men from Nanaimo – including the father of the victim in a high-profile murder case – have been arrested as part of an investigation into “dark-web” drug trafficking.
Kerry Chang, Kien Trung Pham and Gordon Brooks of Nanaimo have been charged with various drug trafficking charges and will have their next appearance in court in June, according to a press release from the B.C. RCMP.
In early 2019, the B.C. RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime cybercrime operations group started an online undercover investigation into an international dark web organized crime group with the vendor name AlwaysOverweight, the release noted.
The press release describes the “dark web” as a hidden layer of the internet accessed through encryption-enabled browsers that hide the user’s digital footprint.
AlwaysOverweight allegedly used cryptocurrency and encrypted messaging applications to cover its tracks while anonymously trafficking a large variety of drugs including methamphetamine, oxycodone, cocaine, MDMA, Xanax, and what was advertised as heroin, but was in fact the deadlier opioid, fentanyl, that was mixed with other cutting agents.
As the investigation evolved to street-level drug transactions, investigators identified the suspects and made the arrests Feb. 2, 2020, when police executed search warrants at two Nanaimo residences. The search warrants also lead to the seizure of a variety of drugs, packaging, mailing envelopes, documents, cash, computers, and data storage devices, say RCMP.
“This is a great example of our ability to quickly adapt and adjust our investigative techniques to meet the rapidly evolving and dynamic world of cybercrime,” said Supt. Richard Bergevin, officer in charge B.C. RCMP federal policing’s major projects, in the press release. “The dark web is just one of the tools that organized crime uses to avoid detection and so police need to continuously evolve their technical capabilities to stem the flow of toxic drugs into our communities.”
Pham is charged with 11 counts of trafficking a controlled substance and four counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. Brooks is charged with seven counts of trafficking a controlled substance and seven counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. Chang is charged with one count of trafficking a controlled substance.
Chang is the father of Makayla Chang, a teen who went missing and then was found dead in 2017.