Feds Watching eBay Purchases

August 2005

It used to be that the DEA would sit in the parking lot of stores selling grow lights and equipment, follow the driver to his destination, do some investigation into the electrical usage of the place, and then get a warrant to bust the home for pot. Things have progressed with the use of the Internet. Now, the feds subpoena records from eBay and PayPal of those purchasing glassware, chemicals and even sassafras oil. They do a little more snooping in the trash outside the home to which the goods were shipped and presto -- they have enought for a search warrant. The strategy paid off for the feds big time this week in Colorado. An Evergreen man got popped with $1 million in Ectasy.

A man accused of making Ecstasy out of his home was caught because he used eBay to purchase oils, glassware and capsule-filler devices that are typically used in clandestine drug labs, authorities said Friday. Cameron J. Bartley, 30, was charged with possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy. The charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. An agent in San Diego notified Denver agents in May that Bartley had been purchasing about $6,000 worth of suspicious items from eBay using a PayPal account, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

Just a heads-up, folks: eBay and PayPal provide no more privacy than your e-mail account.