ED seizes Bitcoins worth ₹130.48 crore in international drug trafficking case

In January, the U.S. Department of Justice had said that Banmeet Singh had pleaded guilty to distributing narcotics and forfeited about $150 million in cryptocurrency.]

May 04, 2024 10:05 pm | Updated 11:30 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Representational file image.

Representational file image. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Enforcement Directorate has seized Bitcoins worth ₹130.48 crore following the arrest of one Parvinder Singh on the request from the U.S. authorities in connection with an international criminal syndicate named “Singh DTO (Drug Trafficking Organisation)“.

On May 1, the agency had searched the premises of the accused in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, days after he was arrested on April 26.

“The brothers namely Banmeet Singh and  Parvinder Singh, along with others, were operating an international drug trafficking group named Singh DTO. They used vendor marketing sites on the dark web, numerous free advertisements on clear web websites, and a network of narcotics and controlled-substance distributors and distribution cells to sell drugs in the U.S., the U.K. and other European countries,” said the ED on Saturday.

The syndicate received drug proceeds through sale on dark web markets, then laundered the funds via cryptocurrency transactions. “Both the brothers used monikers ‘Liston’ on a variety of dark web markets, including Silk Road 1, Alpha Bay and Hansa,” it said, adding that searches were also carried out in the case at four locations on April 26.

In January, the U.S. Department of Justice had said that Banmeet Singh had pleaded guilty to distributing narcotics and forfeited about $150 million in cryptocurrency. It was alleged that he created vendor marketing sites on dark web marketplaces to sell controlled substances, including fentanyl, LSD, ecstasy, Xanax, Ketamine, and Tramadol.

“Customers ordered controlled substances from Singh using the vendor sites and by paying with cryptocurrency. Singh then personally shipped or arranged the shipment of controlled substances from Europe to the U.S. through U.S. mail or other shipping services,” it had alleged.

“From mid-2012 through July 2017, Singh controlled at least eight distribution cells within the United States including cells located in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, North Dakota, and Washington, among other locations. Individuals in those distribution cells received drug shipments from overseas and then re-packaged and re-shipped the drugs to locations in all 50 States in the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Jamaica, Scotland, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” said the Department of Justice.

“Banmeet Singh operated a global dark web enterprise to send fentanyl and other deadly and dangerous drugs to communities across America — in all 50 States — as well as Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean,” Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration had added.

In April 2019, he was arrested in London, and the U.S. secured his extradition in 2023.

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