Online cannabis dealer sentenced by feds to nearly 7 years in prison

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A drug dealer who sold cannabis and cocaine on the “dark web” was sentenced Jan. 16 to six years and eight months in prison on drug-trafficking charges in a Fresno federal court.

David Burchard, 40, sold drugs on the AlphaBay website, shuttered by police in July. It ran on the dark web, a secretive online realm accessed by The Onion Router browser, which bounces search requests and responses around a complex web of global servers, making it extremely challenging for police to track.

Local bank authorities, including those at Santa Rosa-based Exchange Bank, employ computer experts to regularly roam the dark web looking for stolen routing numbers and other information on accounts of the bank’s customers.

Burchard operated on the dark web under the code name “Caliconnect” and “was a major narcotics vendor on the Silk Road and other dark-web marketplaces, including Agora, Abraxas and AlphaBay,” according to the Department of Justice.

“Burchard accepted orders for marijuana and cocaine on the dark web and then mailed the narcotics from post offices in Merced and Fresno County to customers located throughout the United States,” the DOJ said. “Burchard was paid primarily in bitcoin.”

On the Silk Road dark-web marketplace, Burchard conducted sales exceeding $1.4 million, according to the DOJ. Federal authorities shut down Silk Road and arrested its founder Ross William Ulbricht in a surprise sting operation conducted at a San Francisco public library in October 2013. A Silk Road 2.0 was launched about a month later, and it has also been aborted by federal authorities.

“That marketplace was closed,” the DOJ said, and Burchard “transferred his narcotics business to Agora and then to AlphaBay.”

James Dunn covers technology, biotech, law, the food industry, and banking and finance. Reach him at: or 707-521-4257