Serbian Pleads Guilty to Running $18 Million Crypto Drug Market

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  • The operator of illicit drugs market Monopoly Market has pleaded guilty to narcotics charges
  • The platform was in operation from 2019 to 2022 but was undone by an FBI investigation
  • Milomir Desnica, 33, accepted cryptocurrencies for drug transactions until he was arrested last November

The operator of the illicit drugs market Monopoly Market has pleaded guilty to various narcotics-related charges following an FBI investigation. In the mold of Silk Road, Milomir Desnica, 33, launched Monopoly Market in 2019 and began accepting cryptocurrencies for drugs, with the FBI calculating that he took in some $18 million in the three years before his arrest last November. Desnica was extradited to the US in June to face drug trafficking charges and, following his guilty plea, will be sentenced in February 2024.

Monopoly Market Grew With Demand

Desnica ran Monopoly Market from Austria, where he started out by selling narcotics on a small scale. However, demand soon increased and so he scaled up to meet demand, evolving Monopoly Market into a significant marketplace for various illegal drugs, including opioids, stimulants, psychedelics, and prescription medications.

Once US law enforcement became aware of Monopoly Market, they launched a sting operation, placing multiple orders for narcotics in 2021. These resulted in the purchase of over 100 grams of methamphetamine, with the FBI believing that Monopoly Market facilitated global narcotics sales exceeding $18 million, including the distribution of over 30 kilograms of methamphetamine to US customers.

Desnica Arrested in Austria

In December 2021, a collaborative effort between US law enforcement and international partners in Germany and Finland led to the seizure and shutdown of Monopoly’s hosting server, analysis of which gave them records of narcotics transactions, financial documentation reflecting cryptocurrency payments, an associated online forum, communications between the operator and vendors, commission payment invoices, and more. This extensive analysis conclusively identified Desnica as the operator of Monopoly.

It wasn’t until November 2022 that an arrest was coordinated, however, with Desnica finally apprehended in Austria through the joint efforts of the Austrian Fugitive Active Search Team and the Public Prosecutors Office Vienna. A search of his residence and vehicle yielded seized electronics and cash.

Desnica was extradited from Austria to the United States in June to face charges of drug trafficking, charges to which he has now pleaded guilty. He will be sentenced in February when he will face a hefty prison sentence, if the experience of Silk Road’s Ross Ulbricht is anything to go by.