Home News Banmeet Singh to plead guilty in crypto drug case in Ohio

Banmeet Singh to plead guilty in crypto drug case in Ohio

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A British resident accused of using the dark web to sell illicit drugs around the world has agreed to surrender bitcoin valued at more than $330 million in what officials said is believed to be the largest seizure of cryptocurrency in the history of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Banmeet Singh, 40, who was extradited from the United Kingdom in March 2023, is scheduled to plead guilty to money laundering and other charges Friday morning at a federal courthouse in Columbus, Ohio.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio said it is believed to be the “largest single cryptocurrency financial seizure in DEA history.” According to the plea agreement, Singh is forfeiting more than 8,100 bitcoin, which was valued at $150 million when it was originally seized. The price of bitcoin can fluctuate, and the amount being forfeited is currently more than $330 million.

Singh is accused of using dark-web sites to sell heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, LSD, MDMA, Xanax and Tramadol to customers in cities across the United States between 2012 and 2017. Customers paid in bitcoin, MoneyGram, PayPal or cash, according to court records, and Singh would then arrange shipments of the drugs to the United States through mail carriers or package delivery services.

He used dark web marketplaces including Silk Road, Alpha Bay, Hansa and Dream Market, according to the plea agreement unsealed Thursday.

Singh, an Indian national living in England, was indicted in Ohio in 2018 and arrested the following year. He was not extradited to the United States until last year.

The plea agreement states that Singh will plead guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. He is expected to be sentenced to eight years in prison, though a judge will ultimately have to approve the terms of the deal.

His attorneys, David Thomas and Paul D. Petruzzi, declined to comment.

Now shuttered, Silk Road was a notorious marketplace for illicit drugs. Earlier this month, judges sentenced a Maryland father and son — who sold drugs on Silk Road and similar marketplaces under the screen name XanaxMan — to prison on money laundering charges. They forfeited nearly 3,000 bitcoin. In another case tied to the marketplace, the Justice Department in 2022 announced it seized cryptocurrency stolen from Silk Road worth $3.36 billion.

Also in 2022, the Justice Department announced it seized bitcoin worth more than $3.6 billion that had been stolen from the Bitfinex exchange. A married couple from New York later pleaded guilty to money laundering in the case.

Washington Post staff writer Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.

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