Incognito Market
A screenshot of Incognito Market from court documents. Image: Department of Justice

Dark web narcotics market’s alleged leader arrested and charged in New York

A 23-year-old Taiwanese man was expected in federal court Monday afternoon to face charges of owning and operating the dark web narcotics marketplace Incognito Market.

Rui-Siang Lin was arrested on Friday at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, the Department of Justice said in a news release. He allegedly supervised all of Incognito Market’s operations, “including its employees, vendors, and customers, and had ultimate decision-making authority over every aspect of the multimillion-dollar operation,” the DOJ said.

Prosecutors said that the market, beginning in 2020, sold $100 million of controlled substances, “including hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamines” as well as bogus prescription drugs like mislabeled oxycodone. 

Lin, who allegedly used the aliases Pharoah and faro, faces charges that include running a criminal enterprise and money laundering. 

Incognito suddenly closed in March and the operator extorted all of its customers and vendors with fees of $100 to $20,000 to not publish information about their transactions. “YES, THIS IS AN EXTORTION!!” Lin wrote, according to the unsealed indictment against him.

Lin’s arrest is the latest in a string of U.S. and international actions against illicit online marketplaces. German police took down the Nemesis market in March and previously seized Kingdom Market in December 2023. Both sold a variety of goods, including illegal drugs. The stings have included markets for cybercrime tools and stolen data, including BreachForums last week and xDedic in January.

The investigation of Lin included the FBI, the Food and Drug Administration and the New York Police Department. Authorities noted Incognito Market’s ease of use for anybody who found it on the dark web.

“Incognito Market was designed to foster seamless narcotics transactions across the internet and across the world and incorporated many features of legitimate e-commerce sites such as branding, advertising, and customer service,” the DOJ said. 

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Joe Warminsky

Joe Warminsky

is the news editor for Recorded Future News. He has more than 25 years experience as an editor and writer in the Washington, D.C., area. Most recently he helped lead CyberScoop for more than five years. Prior to that, he was a digital editor at WAMU 88.5, the NPR affiliate in Washington, and he spent more than a decade editing coverage of Congress for CQ Roll Call.