U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Government Website

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Safely connect using HTTPS

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. ‘Incognito Market’ Owner Arrested for Operating One of the Largest Online Narcotics Marketplaces Following HSI Investigation

‘Incognito Market’ Owner Arrested for Operating One of the Largest Online Narcotics Marketplaces Following HSI New York Task Force Investigation

Release Date: May 22, 2024

Rui-Siang Lin used the identity “Pharoah” to operate the Incognito Market, which sold more than $100M in illegal narcotics to customers around the world

NEW YORK — A Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York investigation in coordination with law enforcement partners resulted in the arrest of Rui-Siang Lin, also known as Pharoah or Faro, in connection with his operation and ownership of Incognito Market, an online dark web narcotics marketplace that enabled its users to buy and sell illegal narcotics anonymously around the world. Lin was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 18 and was presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer E. Willis on May 20.

“As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin’s brazen operation resulted in the illicit sale of over $100 million in narcotics, including those that were mislabeled and later found to include deadly fentanyl. The El Dorado Task Force’s Darkweb and Cryptocurrency Task Force leverages cutting edge techniques to target even the internet’s most savvy criminals,” said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo. “HSI New York, in coordination with law enforcement partners, remains resolute in its commitment to protecting the public from individuals utilizing dangerous means to make a profit.”

According to the investigation, Incognito Market was an online narcotics bazaar that existed on the dark web. It formed in October 2020. Since that time, and through its closing in March 2024, Incognito Market sold more than $100 million in narcotics — including hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamines. Incognito Market was available globally to anyone with internet access and could be accessed using the Tor web browser on the dark web. Lin operated the market under the online pseudonym Pharoah or Faro. As Pharoah — the leader of Incognito market — Lin supervised all of its operations, including its employees, vendors and customers, and had ultimate decision-making authority over every aspect of the multimillion-dollar operation.

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. Upon visiting the site, users were met by a splash page and graphic interface, which is pictured below.

Upon visiting the site, users were met by a splash page and graphic interface.

After logging in with a unique username and password, users were able to search thousands of listings for narcotics of their choice. Incognito Market sold illegal narcotics and misbranded prescription medication, including, heroin, cocaine, LSD, MDMA, oxycodone, methamphetamines, ketamine and alprazolam. An example of listings on Incognito Market is depicted below.

Example listings of illicit narcotics from Incognito darknet market.

Listings included offerings of prescription medication that was advertised as being authentic but was not. For example, in November 2023, an undercover law enforcement agent received several tablets that purported to be oxycodone, which were purchased on Incognito Market. Testing on those tablets revealed that they were not authentic oxycodone at all and were, in fact, fentanyl pills.

Each listing on Incognito Market was sold by a particular vendor. To become an Incognito Market vendor, people were required to register with the site and pay an admission fee. In exchange for listing and selling narcotics as a vendor on Incognito Market, each vendor paid 5% of the purchase price of every narcotic sold. That revenue funded Incognito Market’s operations, including paying “employee” salaries and for computer servers. Lin collected millions of dollars in profits from Incognito. To facilitate these financial transactions, Incognito Market had its own “bank,” which allowed its users to deposit cryptocurrency on the site into their own accounts. After a narcotics transaction was completed, cryptocurrency from the buyer’s account was transferred to the seller’s account, less the 5% fee that Incognito collected. The bank enabled buyers and sellers to stay anonymous from each other. The bank’s graphic interface is pictured below.

The bank enabled buyers and sellers to stay anonymous from each other.

Rui-Siang Lin, 23, of Taiwan, is charged with one count of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison; one count of narcotics conspiracy, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum potential sentence of life in prison; one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to sell adulterated and misbranded medication, which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison.

Arvelo praised the investigative work of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the FBI’s New York and Cincinnati field offices, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations’ Kansas City field office, and the New York City Police Department.

“Drug traffickers who think they can operate outside the law on the dark web are wrong,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin was the architect of Incognito, a $100 million dark web scheme to traffic deadly drugs to the U.S. and around the world. The long arm of the law extends to the dark web, and we will bring to justice those who try to hide their crimes there.”

“As alleged, Rui-Siang Lin operated a sophisticated and dangerous online narcotics marketplace through which he profited millions of dollars at the community’s expense,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams. “The dedicated prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and our law enforcement partners will pursue criminal actors regardless of whether they operate on street corners or in the dark corners of the internet. The so-called ‘dark web’ is not a safe haven for those who seek to break the law.”

“For nearly four years, Rui-Siang Lin allegedly operated Incognito Market, one of the largest online platforms for narcotics sales, conducting $100 million in illicit narcotics transactions and reaping millions of dollars in personal profits,” said FBI New York Assistant Director in Charge James Smith. “Under the promise of anonymity, Lin’s alleged operation offered the purchase of lethal drugs and fraudulent prescription medication on a global scale. The FBI is committed to targeting and dismantling all criminal enterprises, especially those whose leaders distribute illegal substances on the dark web.”

“The arrest of Incognito Market owner Rui-Siang Lin is a result of the continued working relationship the DEA has with our law enforcement partners in targeting individuals who use the dark web as a marketplace to promote the sale of illicit narcotics,” said Drug Enforcement Administration New York Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III. “Mr. Lin’s alleged actions of putting profits before public health were not only reckless and dangerous, but unconscionable. We will continue to make sure those who hide behind a keyboard and use the dark web to profit off lives face justice.”

“The FDA is committed to continuing its work to disrupt and dismantle the illegal sales of drugs on the dark web, where such sales far too often have tragic consequences,” said the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations Kansas City Special Agent in Charge Charles Grinstead. “We will continue to monitor, investigate and bring to justice those who misuse the internet in a quest for profits with reckless disregard for the risk to public health and safety.”

“This arrest underscores the dedicated, ongoing efforts of law enforcement to identify and dismantle illicit drug networks operating from every shadowy recess of the marketplace,” said New York Police Department Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “I commend our NYPD investigators and all of our state and federal partners for their unwavering commitment to public safety.”

HSI New York leads and directs all operational and administrative activities of the El Dorado Task Force (EDTF). The EDTF is the premier money laundering task force in the nation and is comprised of more than 200 law enforcement personnel representing approximately thirty-five (35) federal, state, and local law enforcement and regulatory agencies. The EDTF encompasses a standalone Cyber Division as part of an effort to stay abreast of emerging criminal threats and in keeping with current and future investigative priorities. The mission of the EDTF is to disrupt, dismantle, or render ineffective, organizations involved in the laundering of proceeds of narcotics trafficking and other financial crimes. Since its inception in 1992, the Task Force has been responsible for the seizure of approximately $600 million and more than 2100 arrests.

Last Updated: 05/31/2024
Was this page helpful?
This page was not helpful because the content