US Couple Pleads Guilty to Running Dark Web Drug Ring

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An American couple has been forced to hand over millions of dollars in BTC and BCH holdings after pleading guilty to running a dark web drugs ring from their base in California. In another sign that cryptocurrency is one of the worst ways to conduct nefarious business due to its traceability, Jabari and Suadi Monson of Merced, California pleaded guilty to charges relating to the distribution of controlled substances and conspiring to distribute controlled substances. Suadia also plead guilty to a violation of the Travel Act, if the initial charges weren’t enough.

You’ve Got Jail

According to court documents, the Monsons operated a number of vendor accounts on the dark web marketplace Dream Market, selling cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, among other illegal substances. As part of the plea agreement, the Monsons agreed to forfeit their cryptocurrency proceeds from the drug distribution, which included BTC and BCH. The case is no small deal, with Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)  all involved.

The pair were active for some seven months between July 2018 and January 2019, with details of how their activities were discovered not being released by police, although the presence of USPIS suggests that the case may have started with an intercepted package.

Dark Web Business Still Attractive to Many

The Monsons are scheduled to be sentenced on November 19, with Jabari Monson facing between five and forty years in prison and a $5 million fine, while Suadia Monson will face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Despite some high-profile arrests in recent years, business on the dark web still seems brisk, with Bloomberg estimating that $1 billion will be spent on illegal online marketplaces this year, despite the DEA noting in August 2018 that illegal activity was no longer the dominant use of BTC.