Defendant Pleads Guilty to Drug Related Charges, Forfeits $150 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency

David Pokima
Last updated: | 2 min read
Defendant Pleads Guilty to Drug Related Charges, Forfeits $150 Million Worth of Cryptocurrency
Source: Dalle-3

An Indian national has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and narcotics-linked charges issued by a United States District Court. The guilty plea resulted in a forfeiture of $150 million worth of cryptocurrency.

In a recent press release, the United States Attorney General’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio states that the defendant pleaded guilty to running a dark web narcotics network that involved the distribution of thousands of controlled pills in the country.

The Largest Crypto Forfeiture in the U.S.

Per court documents, the defendant, Banmeet Singh had a drug enterprise and was also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) described this development as the largest single drug-related cryptocurrency and cash forfeiture in the country as assets seized hit $150 million.

Nicole M. Argentieri, the Acting Assistant Attorney General noted that Singh and order operators utilize the dark web and other tools to conceal their activities to evade prosecution.

“Today’s guilty plea, which includes forfeiture of approximately $150 million in cryptocurrency, demonstrates that the Justice Department will hold criminals who violate U.S. law accountable no matter how they conceal their activity. Together with our international partners, we will continue to find criminals lurking in the darkness and bring their crimes to light.”

Singh established marketplaces on the dark web named Silk Road 1, Silk Road 2, Hansa, etc to sell several substances including Xanax, fentanyl, Ketamine, LSD, and tramadol.

Customers utilized cryptocurrency payments to get the controlled substances and to go below the radar. Authorities allege that Singh arranged the shipping from Europe to the United States.

“Singh was arrested in London in April 2019 and the government secured his extradition to the United States in 2023. Singh is one of eight defendants who were members of this drug trafficking organization who have been convicted of drug trafficking charges throughout the United States.”

Regulators Look to Tighten Cryptocurrency Laws

Meanwhile, global authorities have been advocating for stricter rules around cryptocurrencies and stablecoins and wider Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures to prevent money laundering cases.

A recent United Nations report revealed that USDT is a desired asset for money launderers and scammers in Southeast Asia. The UN Office on Drug and Crime noted that bad actors are transacting with the asset as flagged by several authorities.

The reason for this growing use of USDT is its value pegged to the US Dollar unlike other cryptocurrencies giving scammers the option to close trades instantly without volatility.

In the United States, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a popular cryptocurrency critic, and other anti-digital asset lawmakers are looking to tighten regulations with the Digital Asset Anti Money Laundering Act to curb the use of the assets in illicit schemes.

Similarly, the European Banking Authority (EBA) has extended Anti-Money laundering and terror financing regulations to cryptocurrencies.