NEWARK — Federal agents arrested a New Hampshire man in Hampton, N.H., on charges that he illegally trafficked firearms through New Jersey on an underground, Internet-based marketplace known as “Black Market Reloaded,” New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Matthew Crisafi, 38, of Hampton, was arrested by special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), on a federal criminal complaint charging him with three counts: the unlicensed sale of firearms; smuggling of firearms from the United States to an overseas destination; and conspiring to commit money laundering in connection with firearms trafficking activities.
“International arms trading and other crimes are just as dangerous whether deals are made in person or through anonymous computer networks and currencies,” said Fishman. “Online black market sellers should take note: we aren’t just targeting the administrators of these sites, which can pop up again elsewhere. If you buy or sell illegal goods on an underground marketplace, law enforcement is watching.”
According to the criminal complaint unsealed Thursday:
In April 2013, HSI special agents conducted an investigation of illicit sales activity on Black Market Reloaded (BMR). The website provides a platform for vendors and buyers to conduct anonymous online transactions involving the sale of a variety of illegal goods, including firearms, ammunition, explosives, narcotics and counterfeit items. Unlike mainstream e-commerce websites, BMR is only accessible via the Tor network – a special computer network designed to enable users to conceal their identities and locations. Transactions on BMR are conducted using Bitcoin, an anonymous, decentralized form of electronic currency that only exists online.
During the investigation, HSI learned that Crisafi maintained a seller’s profile on BMR, allegedly to advertise the illegal sale of firearms and ammunition. Over a period of approximately three months, Crisafi negotiated with an undercover officer – whom he believed was an international purchaser of firearms – to allegedly sell a number of semi-automatic handguns and rifles, including a Smith & Wesson Model Bodyguard .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun; a Glock Model 26, 9mm caliber semi-automatic handgun; a KelTec Model P32, .32 caliber semi-automatic handgun; a NORINCO SKS 7.62 semi-automatic rifle; an AR-15 Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle and others. In all, Crisafi allegedly sold multiple firearms to the undercover officer, valued by law enforcement to be worth more than $11,000 on the black market.
Crisafi allegedly shipped the firearms in packages through the U.S. Postal Service. Several of the weapons Crisafi allegedly sold were sent to the undercover officer through a location in New Jersey, where they were seized by law enforcement officials.
“Today’s arrest is a testament to the strong working relationships HSI has forged with our numerous law enforcement partners,” said HSI Newark Special Agent in Charge Andrew McLees. “People who think they can hide behind a veil of an ‘underground’ website to buy and sell weapons illegally are mistaken – HSI will use all of our collective resources to track you down and bring you to justice.”
Fishman credited special agents of HSI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge McLees in Newark and Special Agent in Charge Bruce M. Foucart in Boston with leading the investigation; as well as postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria Kelokates; special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge George P. Belsky; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire, under the direction of John P. Kacavas; and officers from the Hampton Police Department in Hampton, N.H., under the direction of Police Chief Jamie Sullivan, for their important contributions.
The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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