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Feds: International darknet drug trafficking ring busted because of buyer in Boulder, Colorado

April 15, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Feds: International darknet drug trafficking ring busted because of buyer in Boulder, Colorado

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Federal prosecutors say four suspects named in an indictment for their roles in an international darknet drug trafficking ring were busted, after authorities intercepted drug shipments traveling via mail en route to Boulder, Colorado.

According to a Justice Department press release, Leonardo Cristea, a 22-year-old Romanian citizen was sentenced in a federal court in Denver on Wednesday to three years in a U.S. penitentiary after he previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to import controlled substances.

Prosecutors claim that Cristea is a member of an international drug trafficking enterprise named the “ItalianMafiaBrussels” that employed the dark web — an area of the internet that requires special software to enter — to distribute the drug MDMA. The group accepted payment via bitcoin and sent the drugs through the mail.

In 2016, authorities arrested ten people in Bruges, Belgium, who were linked to the drug network. Cristea and the purported ringleader of the group, Filip Lucian Simion, were both apprehended rested in Bucharest, Romania, before they were extradited to Colorado.

On Monday, Simion pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiring to import controlled substances and conspiracy to commit money laundering. His sentencing is scheduled for August. Two others charged in the same indictment as Cristea and Simion will be prosecuted in Belgium.

A criminal complaint states that in 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized a Boulder-bound package originating from Belgium that was contained over 2 ounces of MDMA, a drug commonly known by the names Molly or ecstasy.

The Boulder County Drug Task Force carried out a “controlled delivery” of the drugs and the person who had ordered the drugs agreed to cooperate with law enforcement officials.

The cooperating witness told authorities that he purchased drugs at the now-defunct drug marketplace Silk Road online and paid using bitcoin he received from a local bitcoin exchanger.

Authorities from several agencies in the U.S. and Europe caught two more people having drugs sent to the Denver area and Michigan, all of whom agreed to cooperate.

An undercover official with Homeland Security carried out online communications with someone from the drug ring for roughly a year and a half. Officers in Belgium conducted extensive surveillance of Cristea, Simion and two others during the probe with assistance from law enforcement in Romania and France.

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