Several drug dealers who allegedly used cryptocurrencies to conduct illicit transactions have been sentenced to prison for periods ranging between 5 to 20 years.
Selling Cocaine, Meth, Heroin Using Cryptocurrencies
California resident Wyatt Pasek received a 17.5 year prison sentence on Monday for selling fake opioid pills. Arizona residents Amber Worrell, Kevin Dean McCoy, Silvester Ruelas, and Peggy Gomez were also sentenced to prison for multiple years on similar drug-related charges.
The offenders have been charged with selling cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines via underground marketplaces on the dark web. Court filings and press releases on the incidents revealed that all the defendants used cryptocurrencies for settling transactions.
Pasek, who used the aliases “oxygod” and “Yung10x” on darknet marketplaces, pleaded guilty in November 2018 for his involvement in drug-related conspiracy, illegal possession of a firearm, and engaging in money laundering activities. This, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
In a plea agreement, Pasek has decided to hand over $21,000 in cash, a diamond-studded watch, a “bitcoin necklace” made with diamond and gold, thousands of dollars in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies kept in a Blockchain wallet, and two gold bars.
Other defendants in the case, including Gomez, McCoy, Worrell, and Ruelas have also pleaded guilty to money laundering charges. They reportedly used various decentralized exchanges to perform illicit cryptocurrency transactions.
Law enforcement agencies have seized several gold, silver, and platinum bars. Police officials also confiscated an AK-47, a Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl ring, a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun and a .50 caliber sniper rifle, according to a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.
False Sense of Security: Dark Web Transactions Are Being Closely Monitored By Law Enforcement
As mentioned in the reports, the Arizona-based offenders had been conducting drug deals through AlphaBay, Dream Market, and Hansa – which allowed users to conduct crypto transactions.
Authorities managed to shut down AlphaBay and Hansa in 2017. Dream Market was taken down earlier this year.
Doug Coleman, special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, noted:
“Drug traffickers using the dark web feel a sense of security with the anonymity to sell their poisons throughout the world.”
“This investigation clearly demonstrates they aren’t safe, they aren’t anonymous, and they can’t evade justice.”
The crypto-related drug charges have been announced shortly after the White House issued two different advisories in which it warned that digital currencies including Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ether (ETH), and Monero (XMR) had been used to carry out illegal drug-related transactions.