Serbian guilty of running $18M crypto drugs market
A 33-year-old Serbian man has pleaded guilty to creating a dark web marketplace that raked in $18 million by selling over 30kg of meth and a host of other drugs in exchange for various cryptocurrencies, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).
In 2019, Milomir Desnica launched Monopoly Market which, according to court records, presented itself as a typical online shop where users browse purchasable drugs under the categories of cannabis, ecstasy, opioids, prescriptions, and stimulants.
Customers were required to buy the drugs with crypto, such as Bitcoin or Monero, from individual vendors who made a commission on every sale. Desnica’s role included approving wannabe vendors.
Police used crypto to buy drugs and expose the market
In 2021, Monopoly Market began to collapse after US authorities placed several orders with the site and received over 100g of meth. Authorities in Germany and Finland subsequently helped seize the server hosting the site.
Once confiscated, the computer was used to unearth drug transactions, crypto payments, vendor communications, and commission invoices, among other pieces of valuable data. This is also when Desnica’s role in the operation was discovered.
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The FBI was then able to use the bitcoin-paid vendor invoices to track illicit funds despite Monopoly Market attempting to obfuscate its tracks.
Austrian authorities located and arrested Desnica in November 2021, seizing his house, his car, more than €18,000, 866 in Tether (USDT), and over $400 in ETH. Desnica admitted that his seized goods were all made from the proceeds of Monopoly Market.
Desnica was extradited from Austria in June this year to face US charges and pleaded guilty to both conspiracy to distribute and possession of over 50 grams of methamphetamine with intent to sell. He faces between 10 years and life in prison.