$17 Million in Bitcoin Seized in Dark Web Undercover Sting Operation
US Prosecutors seized over $22 million in assets from two men in Maryland on charges of production and selling counterfeit drugs through the Dark Web. $17 million (at the time of seizure) of the amount was in Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin Used to Buy Counterfeit Xanax
Two men from Maryland were indicted on charges related to producing and selling counterfeit drugs on the Dark Web. According to the press release published by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the two have been taking part in a scheme to manufacture and to distribute alprazolam tablets, which are generally sold under the “Xanax” brand.
The indictment, which contains a total of six charges, alleges that over the span of four years – from Nov. 2013 to June 2017 – defendants Ryan Farace, 34, and Robert Swain, also 34, sold the counterfeit drugs on the Dark Web in exchange for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
To date, law enforcement has managed to seize assets worth a total of $22 million at the time of the seizures. These include 4,000 BTC which, at the time, were worth $17 million. However, taking the price of Bitcoin 00 at present time, their total worth is currently upwards of $24 million.
The authorities also seized more than $1.5 million in cash and an estimated $2.5 million in computer equipment. The government now seeks a forfeiture of at least $5,665,000, as well as the value of the 4,000 BTC which are believed to be the proceeds of the illicit activities.
Both men face twenty years of jail time on the count of money laundering while Farace also faces five years in prison on the count of drug distribution.
Operation Dark Gold
The case was a part of Operation Dark Gold – a joint undercover national operation involving the Department of Homeland Security, the DOJ’s Criminal Division, and the US Secret Service, among other authorities.
As a result of the year-long coordinated operation, more than 51 people have been arrested and charged in more than 90 active cases throughout the entire country. The actions of the authorities have also resulted in the seizure of virtual currency proceeds, weapons, drugs, fiat currency, and computer equipment.
Do you think cryptocurrencies are the currency of choice for illicit activities? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Pixabay, Shutterstock