$4 Million in Bitcoin, 100 Quadrillion in Zimbabwe Bank Notes Forfeited by Dark Web Drug Dealer
- A drug dealer on the dark web was caught after selling to a law enforcement officer.
- The kingpin was selling carfentanil, phenyl fentanyl, and fentanyl from 2015 to 2019.
One of the biggest worries of the traditional financial market with cryptocurrency is the potential for it to be used in the black market. Some cybercriminals have chosen to use cryptocurrency as a way to try and cover their trail, but one major force in the dark web seems to have been caught. According to reports from The Next Web’s Hard Fork, this kingpin was discovered after selling drugs to an undercover police officer with an encrypted email.
The kingpin – Richard Castro – is from Windermere, Florida, and he pled guilty to a count of conspiracy to distribute and possess, intending to distribute carfentanil, phenyl fentanyl, and fentanyl. The crimes took place from 2015 to as recently as spring 219. All three of these drugs are controlled substances, as fentanyl is substantially stronger than heroin. For a little perspective, carfentanil is reportedly 100 times stronger than fentanyl. The charges can come with a minimum of 10 years in prison or a maximum of life in prison. He also pled guilty to a count of money laundering, a crime that has a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Castro’s plea agreement comes with some specific terms, including that he agreed to forfeit $4,156,198.18, found in seven separate Bitcoin wallet addresses. Hard Fork also reports that Castro ultimately forfeited 100 quadrillions in bank notes from Zimbabwe.
Much of the work of Castro and his accomplice – Luis Fernandez – was performed with the code names “Chemusa,” “Chems_usa,” or “Chemical_usa.” They used the Dream Market dark web marketplace to complete transactions, though he posted the completion of 3,200 transactions on other markets. On Alpha Bay, for example, Castro stated that he’d completed 1,800 transactions.
Customers of Castro exchanged their Bitcoin for the drugs, which was then laundered through Castro’s Bitcoin wallets and through the purchase of Zimbabwean bank notes. Geoffrey S. Berman, a US attorney in Manhattan, stated,
“As he admitted today, for years, Richard Castro used the dark web to distribute prolific quantities of powerful opioids. 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.”
Last June, Castro had informed his customers that the work he was doing would not be run on the dark web marketplaces anymore. Instead, he stated that he planned to accept drug purchase requests, which would need to be done through encrypted emails that those clients would need to pay to get.
Unfortunately, this seemingly good plan was thwarted when a law enforcement officer decided to pay up, collecting the email address. It didn’t take long to coordinate an order with Castro, which got him to where he is now – waiting for his October 25th court date to be sentenced for his crimes.