After pleading guilty to charges of money laundering and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, dark web drug dealer must forfeit $4 million in funds including bitcoin. Guilty narcotics dealer hands over millions in bitcoin in plea deal.
Richard Castro went by the pseudonyms “Chemsusa,” “Chems_usa,” “Chemical_usa” and “Jagger109” while conducting his illicit trade. According to a press release from the Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York on July 25, he is alleged to have sold carfentanil, fentanyl, and a fentanyl analogue called phenyl fentanyl on dark web markets. From November 2015 to March 2019, some o dark web markets he used included AlphaBay and Dream Market.
As payment for the drugs, Castro is said to have accepted bitcoin. He then laundered the proceeds in different ways, such as by using bitcoin wallets. A curious manner in which he did his laundering was by buying “100 quadrillion Zimbabwe bank notes.” The release said that Luis Fernandez, an alleged co-conspirator in the case, shipped narcotics from locations including from New York City.
Geoffrey S. Berman, Manhattan U.S. Attorney said:
“As he admitted today, for years, Richard Castro used the dark web to distribute prolific quantities of powerful opioids, including fentanyl and carfentanil. Castro thought he could hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and use online pseudonyms to deal drugs – like ‘Chems_usa’ and ‘Chemical_usa.’ Thanks to our law enforcement partners, ‘Chems_usa’ is now in U.S. prison.”
According to the indictment details, what proved to be Castro’s undoing was him telling customers he was moving his business off the dark web and would carry out his opioids trade via encrypted email in June 2018.
He asked customers to pay a fee for the email address, which he used under the “Chems_usa” pseudonym. An undercover law enforcement officer paid the fee, was provided the encrypted email address and subsequently placed orders for drugs with Castro. That was how Castro was caught and arrested.
Castro apparently boasted, on Dream Market, of completing over 3,200 transactions on the dark web.
Fentanyl is “significantly stronger” than heroin, while carfentanil is around 100 times stronger than fentanyl. It is even considered a chemical weapon. These details were included in the release.
Castro agreed to hand over $4,156,198.18 in illicit earnings, including the contents of his seven bitcoin wallets, as part of the plea deal.