A prominent British narcotics trafficker involved in the United States Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) largest-ever Bitcoin (BTC) seizure has admitted to operating an extensive network of illicit online marketplaces, as revealed by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
Massive Dark Web Drug Operation Exposed
The defendant, Banmeet Singh, a 40-year-old Indian national from Haldwani, India, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess controlled substances with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Singh’s criminal enterprise allegedly facilitated the sale and distribution of various controlled substances, including fentanyl, LSD, ecstasy, Xanax, Ketamine, and Tramadol, through vendor marketing sites on notorious dark web platforms such as Silk Road 1, Silk Road 2, Alpha Bay, Hansa, among others.
According to the DOJ’s investigation, customers would order narcotics from Singh’s vendor sites using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as payment. Singh personally oversaw the shipment of these illicit substances from Europe to the United States, employing various shipping services, including the US mail.
From mid-2012 to July 2017, Singh controlled eight distribution cells across the United States, with locations in Columbus, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, North Dakota, Washington, and beyond.
These cells received drug shipments from overseas, repackaged the drugs, and distributed them to locations in all 50 states, Canada, England, Ireland, Jamaica, Scotland, and the US Virgin Islands, according to the DOJ.
Millions In Bitcoin Seized
Singh, arrested in London in April 2019, was extradited to the United States in 2023. He is one of eight members of this drug trafficking organization who have been convicted of drug trafficking charges across the United States. US Attorney Kenneth L. Parker stated on the matter:
In the Singh organization’s drug orders, the members frequently used the vendor name “Liston” and signed off with the signature phrase, “I’m still dancing.” Today, with Banmeet Singh’s plea of guilty, the dance is over, the DOJ remarked.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division emphasized the significance of Singh’s guilty plea, including the forfeiture of approximately $150 million worth of Bitcoin (8,100 BTC).
DEA Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene declared Singh a Consolidated Priority Target, highlighting his position as one of the most significant drug trafficking threats globally.
The DOJ further stated that Singh’s criminal enterprise caused “extensive harm,” shipping large quantities of “deadly drugs” throughout the United States, primarily purchased online and sent via mail.
The investigation benefited from the collaboration of international partners, including the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA), Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and Central Authority (UKCA). The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs was crucial in securing Singh’s arrest and extradition from the UK.
As of now, the price of Bitcoin stands at $42,900, reflecting a recent rebound from the mid-$38,500 level. Over the past week, Bitcoin has experienced a 5% increase in value.
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