Dark Web Drugs Vendor Forfeits $150m After Guilty Plea

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A prolific dark web drugs vendor has pleaded guilty and agreed to forfeit $150m, the largest single seizure ever taken by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Banmeet Singh, 40, of Haldwani, India, sold controlled substances including fentanyl, LSD, ecstasy, Xanax, ketamine and tramadol through vendor sites on various dark web marketplaces.

He then arranged shipment from Europe to the US, where he controlled at least eight distribution centers in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, North Dakota and Washington.

Between at least mid-2012 to July 2017, products were received at these centers and repackaged for shipment across the US, and to the UK, Canada, Ireland and the US Virgin Islands, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Read more on NCA investigations: Police Arrest 1000 Suspected Money Mules

Singh is said to have sold hundreds of kilos of drugs in this way, laundering millions of dollars worth of proceeds into cryptocurrency accounts.

The UK’s National Crime Agency branded it “the largest single cryptocurrency and cash seizure in DEA history, worth around $150m.”

The NCA was called in to help on the investigation in 2017, and the following year the US attorney general designated Singh as a Consolidated Priority Organisational Target (CPOT) – illustrating the seriousness of his crimes.

NCA surveillance revealed Singh to be living in Coventry. It claimed he had set up a pharmaceutical business in the UK and lived a “moderate lifestyle,” spending part of the year living in India.

He was arrested in April 2019, with searches at the property uncovering cold storage wallets and recovery seeds for the all-important cryptocurrency accounts.

Singh’s extradition to the US was delayed until 2023 after he filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights.

He is now the eighth member of the narcotics ring to have been convicted of drug trafficking charges in the US. Singh pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He will face a further eight years behind bars.

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