US authorities launched an operation against a New Jersey-based darknet narcotics distribution network, seizing millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies earned through illegal drug trafficking.
$54 Million Seizure
The criminal named Christopher Castelluzzo, who moved his earnings from drug smuggling into the cryptocurrency market, is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence. Castelluzzo had converted his Bitcoin earnings from drug sales on the Darknet into Ethereum during the first coin offering (ICO) in 2014.
The US Attorney’s Office is determined to trace and recover these proceeds of drug trafficking. Therefore, authorities seized Castelluzzo’s crypto assets and filed a forfeiture case. This process encompasses a fortune of 30,000 ether, initially acquired from Ethereum’s first coin offering, which now has a value of $53.5 million.
“The civil action we are taking today seeks to recover millions of dollars of cryptocurrency, which the defendant allegedly obtained from drug sales,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said. “Whether it’s as simple as bags of cash or as sophisticated as cryptocurrency, we will take the steps necessary to seize financial gains defendants obtain from criminal activity.”
With the close surveillance of the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office, Castelluzzo’s attempts to evade taxes and move his assets abroad were thwarted. Acting on tips received from prison calls, officials prevented the illicitly earned cryptocurrencies from being moved out of the country.
Source: The Block