Money Laundering Charges: Former Darknet Drug Trafficker Pleads Guilty


Hugh Brian Haney, a dark web drug trafficker, has pled guilty to money laundering charges, according to Prosecutors with the Southern District of New York. In a plea deal that was announced by prosecutors, Haney pleaded guilty to felony counts of participating in a financial transaction in criminally derived assets, which carries a 10-year maximum prison sentence and concealment money laundering, which also carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence.

The Columbus dark web drug trafficker laundered $19 million of drugs proceeds he made by selling illicit drugs on the now-defunct Silk Road marketplace. The 61-year-old was believed to have laundered his criminal proceeds using cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin. Court documents revealed that the former dark web drug trafficker was part of a group named “Pharmville” on Silk Road, which sold a range of controlled substances and only accepted payment in cryptocurrencies.

Drug trafficker

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The Columbus native, according to prosecutors, Haney was a high-ranking member of the dark web group and made almost 4,000 bitcoin in profits from February 2012. Haney, together with his group, trafficked oxycontin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids. The former dark web drug trafficker was arrested after the shutdown of the Silk Road marketplace in 2013, when Pharmville appeared under the radar of law enforcement, with other dark web vendors.

Haney, in a desperate attempt to evade law enforcement, tried to convert the bitcoins he had on an online exchange platform for $19,147,053 in January 2018. His actions proved futile, as the unnamed online exchange, froze his account and began an internal investigation into the transaction.

The former dark web drug trafficker initially claimed that the Bitcoin in his wallet as a reward for mining the cryptocurrency. Investigators, however, clowned that claim and resorted to a blockchain analysis software, which indicated that the digital currency came from the Silk Road marketplace.

An additional investigation uncovered Haney’s identity and his role in the dark web vendor account. A search warrant executed on Haney’s house led to the confiscation of a computer, a mobile device, and a file saved as a “to-do list” on his computer, which had details of Pharmville’s business on Silk Road marketplace. He was subsequently arrested in July this year.

Drug trafficker

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Speaking after the plea deal, Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, stated in a released statement that, “Peddling drugs on the dark web does not provide anonymity forever, as Hugh Brian Haney can testify.” The drug trafficker was arrested in Ohio, before being transferred to New York authorities to face prosecution. Haney’s sentencing is scheduled for February 2020 and will have to forfeit his Bitcoin, as part of his plea deal in the Manhattan court.

Silk Road marketplace, was created in February 2011, by convicted felon Ross Ulbricht, who used the moniker Dread Pirate Roberts. The dark web marketplace was described by law enforcement as the internet’s eBay of illegal doings, the wild west, and a haven for narcotics dealers, scammers, arms dealing, and many other illegal things. The dark web marketplace was active for less than three years but still managed to make a name in the world on vice.

Many arrests have been made so far in connection with the takedown of the marketplace. Amongst them is the creator of the marketplace, and two disgraced US federal agents, who had a hand in some of the crimes which were committed with the help of the dark web marketplace.

Source: Fx Street

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