A 25-year-old Brockton man was ordered to forfeit more than $2M worth of Bitcoin after he was sentenced to eight years in prison for drug trafficking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
The forfeiture, which was a total of 59 Bitcoin, is the state’s top federal law enforcement agency’s first judicial forfeiture of cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin is a digital currency that operates free of any central control or the oversight of banks or governments. The cryptocurrency can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network.
Binh Thanh Le was sentenced in federal court in Boston on March 11 to eight years in prison for using the dark web to assist in a drug trafficking operation, officials said.
Le was also ordered to forfeit $114,680 in cash, $42,390 in the proceeds of the sale of a 2018 BMW M3, along with other items including a pill press and a currency counter, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
The Brockton man pleaded guilty in September 2021 to conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, ketamine and xanax.
“At only 22-years-old, he used the Dark Web [sic] to organize a complex drug distribution operation that reached a nationwide customer base and an international network of suppliers,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “This sentence sends a clear message to Dark Web criminals: the federal government is entering this space. We will find you and you will be held accountable.”
Le was indicted in June 2019 along with co-conspirators Steven McCall and Allante Pires, officials said.
Le received wholesale quantities of controlled substances in the mail from various international sources. He would then process and manufacture those drugs at an office space he rented in Stoughton, prosecutors said.
To distribute the drugs, Le created and operated a vendor site called “EastSideHigh” in markets on the dark web.
The dark web refers to areas of the internet that can only be accessed with specific software, configurations or authorization that anonymize internet traffic.
According to prosecutors, Le used these dark web markets to advertise and sell various drugs including cocaine, MDMA, ketamine and xanax.
After receiving the orders and payment via Bitcoin, Le mailed the drugs to customers throughout the United States.
Prosecutors claim others may have assisted him in this operation.
On March 27, 2019, Le met with undercover law enforcement officers at a hotel in Norwood to exchange 59 Bitcoins, which at the time was worth $200,000, for cash. He was arrested after he transferred the Bitcoin to the agents, officials said.
As of Saturday, March 19, 2022, 59 Bitcoins are worth more than $2.4M.
More than 19 kilograms of MDMA, almost seven kilograms of ketamine, nearly one kilogram of cocaine and more than 10,000 counterfeit xanax pills were seized by authorities during the investigation.
Investigators also recovered a computer with the “EastSideHigh” vendor page open, numerous packages containing MDMA and Ketamine, various shipping and packaging materials and a pill press from the office space in Stoughton.
Judge Rya W. Zobel ordered Le to three years of supervised release.
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