Two Costa Rican residents have been charged with selling opioids illegally on the darknet for what amounted to 23,903 Bitcoin, according to Cointelgraph. The amount is equivalent to around $270 million.

Arrested were darknet vendor David Brian Pate, 44, originally a U.S. resident, and Costa Rican pharmacist Jose Luis Fung Hou, 38, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. They’ve been charged by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on conspiring to distribute controlled substances, distributing controlled substances, conspiring to import these substances and conspiring to launder money and money instruments.

Pate, according to the statement, illegally bought narcotics from Fung, laundering payments to him to do so. From there, Pate allegedly sold the pills on the darknet, including on sites like Silk Road and AlphaBay, for Bitcoin.

While using various online names like “buyersclub,” Pate allegedly advertised the pills as the “old formula” of OxyContin, without crush-proof features that made it impossible to inhale or inject the pills after pulverizing them, the statement said.

In addition, Pate allegedly engaged in numerous bulk shipments of narcotics from Costa Rica to co-conspirator re-shippers, sometimes concealed in things like tourist souvenirs, according to the statement. He would then send re-shippers a list of customer order details, which led to re-shippers crafting small pill packages and sending them to those customers.

After the shipments were received, Pate would allegedly be paid in Bitcoin, the statement said.

“These charges are a warning to drug traffickers worldwide that neither the shroud of the darknet or of virtual currency can hide their illegal activities from the vigilance of U.S. law enforcement,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin in the statement. “We are firmly committed to combatting the problem of opioid abuse and breaking through sophisticated cyber-enabled barriers employed by criminals to hide their activities.”

Cryptocurrencies have been used in crimes quite frequently as of late.


New PYMNTS Report: Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook – July 2020 

Call it the great tug-of-war. Fraudsters are teaming up to form elaborate rings that work in sync to launch account takeovers. Chris Tremont, EVP at Radius Bank, tells PYMNTS that financial institutions (FIs) can beat such highly organized fraudsters at their own game. In the July 2020 Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook, Tremont lays out how.


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