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Press Release

Dark Web Defendant Sentenced

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

     PHOENIX – Today, George Cotrel, 23, of London, United Kingdom, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Diane J. Humetewa to eight months’ imprisonment, with credit for time served dating back to his arrest on July 22, 2016. Judge Humetewa also imposed restitution in the amount of $30,000. Cotrel had previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.


     “Our office is dedicated to prosecuting illegal activity wherever it occurs, including on the ‘dark web,’ which attempts to provide a platform for concealing criminal activity from law enforcement,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange. “We commend the IRS-CI agents for uncovering Cotrel’s efforts to commit wire fraud.”


     “IRS Special Agents are experts in conducting complex financial investigations‎ including those now being committed on the ‘dark web’ with virtual currency,” stated IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Ismael Nevarez Jr.


     From March 2014 to September 2014, Cotrel participated in a scheme to advertise money laundering services on a TOR network black-market website. (TOR is an acronym for “The Onion Router,” which is a mechanism to anonymize internet traffic. TOR also enables access to certain “hidden services” websites accessible only through the TOR network.) Beginning in March 2014, Cotrel communicated online with undercover agents posing as criminals seeking to launder proceeds of criminal activity, and he subsequently met with the agents in person in April 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev., to discuss a specific transaction.


     The investigation in this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. The prosecution was handled by James R. Knapp and Gary M. Restaino, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.



RELEASE NUMBER: 2017-020_Cotrel

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Updated March 1, 2017

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: CR-16-879-PHX-DJH/2017-020_Cotrel