Guilty pleas have been entered by a drug ring that laundered its profits through cryptocurrency. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced the development on April 23. The drug business laundered somewhere around $2.8 million in drug proceeds through their own website and the dark web.
While this is not the first time that a dark web drug ring has been investigated and charged; this does mark the first conviction of cryptocurrency money laundering case by New York prosecutors. Callaway Crain and Mark Sanchez, both 35, will be sentenced in July. They have both pleaded guilty to not only money laundering charges, but drug charges as well.
The two sold their products on their own network of websites called “NextDayGear”. They sold steroids and other hard drugs to countries throughout the world from 2013 to 2018, shipping over 10,000 packages thanks to their drug business. They accepted fiat currency (through Western Union) or cryptocurrency for the drug orders.
The defendants purchased chemicals wholesale from China, then mixed and packaged the substances under various brand names and advertised them online. As their business grew, they had quite the myriad of a customer base – including police officers, fitness trainers, doctors, lawyers, and more. However, the DA’s office did not elaborate on the identities of any of the buyers. In addition to steroids, the two sold pharmaceuticals such as Xanax, Valium, and Viagra.
Crain and Sanchez moved their operations to Dallas in 2016, where more search warrants were executed, revealing a full-scale laboratory and “distribution workspace”.
In a statement, Vance elaborated that drug dealers were not safe, despite their belief that the dark web or cryptocurrency might help to cover their tracks. He warned those who sold drugs online: “My Office has the skills and resources to follow the money, shut down your business, and hold you accountable.”
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