A dark web kingpin has forfeited $4 million, including Bitcoin and 100 quadrillion Zimbabwe bank notes after selling drugs to an undercover cop via encrypted email.
Richard Castro, of Windermere (Florida), pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute three controlled substances – carfentanil, phenyl fentanyl, and fentanyl. The charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years behind bars and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
He also pled guilty to one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Castro agreed to forfeit $4,156,198.18, including the funds or currency in seven different Bitcoin wallet addresses.
Drug dealers stockpiling Zimbabwean currency?
Castro and his accomplice dealt drugs using the monikers “Chemsusa,” “Chems_usa,” and “Chemical_usa.”
On Dream Market, a dark web marketplace, Castro boasted that he had completed more than 3,200 transactions on other dark web markets, including more than 1,800 on AlphaBay.
Drugs were sold by Castro in exchange for Bitcoin, and then laundered in several ways, including by funnelling millions of dollars through his Bitcoin wallets and purchasing a ludicrous amounts of Zimbabwean bank notes, as well as other valuables.
“As he admitted today, for years, Richard Castro used the dark web to distribute prolific quantities of powerful opioids,” said Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman.
“Castro thought he could hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and use online pseudonyms to deal drugs … Thanks to our law enforcement partners [he] is now in US prison,” he added.
In June last year, Castro told customers he was moving his business off dark web marketplaces and would instead accept drug purchase requests via encrypted email.
To provide customers with his email address, Castro asked clients to pay a fee.
Unfortunately for him, an undercover law enforcement officer paid this fee, obtained the encrypted email address, and placed orders with Castro.
Castro is due to appear before a Judge for sentencing on October 25.