A Dark Web Drug Empire Unraveled

The Takedown of Incognito Market

In a decisive blow to the underground narcotics trade, Rui-Siang Lin, the alleged operator of the notorious "Incognito Market" on the dark web, has been arrested. Lin, a 23-year-old from Taiwan, was detained at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and now faces multiple charges related to his involvement in running one of the largest illegal drug marketplaces online.

The Emergence of Incognito Market

Launched in 2020, Incognito Market quickly became a significant player in the illegal drug trade. According to law enforcement officials, the marketplace facilitated transactions worth over $100 million, dealing in vast quantities of drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamines, and counterfeit prescription medications, some of which were mislabelled and contained lethal substances like fentanyl.

Operating under the pseudonyms "Pharoah" and "faro," Lin allegedly directed all facets of Incognito Market. He managed the platform's employees, vendors, and users, overseeing every critical decision. The site was designed with features similar to legitimate e-commerce platforms, including branding, advertising, and customer support, making it accessible and appealing to a broad audience on the dark web.

Coordinated Law Enforcement Effort

Lin's arrest resulted from a comprehensive investigation by several agencies, including the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI), and the New York Police Department (NYPD). This collaboration underscores the ongoing commitment to dismantling criminal enterprises exploiting the dark web's anonymity.

As part of the investigation, law enforcement executed search warrants on three servers critical to Incognito Market's operations. These servers managed the site's DDoS protection system, stored comprehensive transaction data, and processed cryptocurrency payments. Investigators found databases containing details of over 1,300 vendor accounts, 255,000 customer accounts, and nearly 225,000 transactions.

The Decline of Incognito Market

In March 2024, Lin abruptly shut down Incognito Market, withholding funds from vendors and customers. He demanded additional payments ranging from $100 to $20,000, threatening to release their transaction histories if they failed to comply. This extortion attempt was described by prosecutors as a stark demonstration of Lin's audacity.

Following Lin's arrest, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York emphasized the relentless pursuit of justice. "The so-called 'dark web' is not a sanctuary for those seeking to evade the law. Our dedicated prosecutors and law enforcement partners will continue to target criminal actors, whether they operate in the physical world or the dark corners of the internet," Williams stated.

If convicted, Lin faces severe penalties, including a mandatory life sentence for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. Additional charges could result in up to 20 years in prison for money laundering and up to 5 years for conspiring to sell adulterated and misbranded medication.

Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo of HSI New York highlighted the dangers posed by Lin's activities, noting that his operations resulted in over $100 million worth of narcotics sales, some involving deadly fentanyl. The arrest marks a significant step in protecting the public from such hazardous enterprises.


The takedown of Incognito Market and the arrest of Rui-Siang Lin highlight the persistent efforts of law enforcement to combat illegal drug activities on the dark web. This case serves as a powerful reminder that the anonymity of the dark web does not shield criminals from justice. As authorities continue to dismantle these illicit networks, the message is clear: engaging in illegal activities online will inevitably lead to accountability and prosecution.