Member of Darknet Drug Trafficking Organization “ItalianMafiaBrussels” Sentenced to Prison
Another Member of DTO Pleads Guilty
DENVER – United States Attorney Bob Troyer announced today that U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson sentenced Leonardo Cristea, 22, to 36 months’ imprisonment. Cristea had previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to import controlled substances, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 963.
On May 3, 2016, in a joint U.S./European enforcement action, law enforcement dismantled the ItalianMafiaBrussels Drug Trafficking Organization, arresting ten defendants during early morning raids in Bruges, Belgium and surrounding areas. Leonardo Cristea and Filip Lucian Simion were arrested simultaneously in Bucharest, Romania, and extradited to the District of Colorado in July and October of 2016, respectively.
The nine-count indictment underlying the extraditions charged Filip Lucian Simion, Leonardo Cristea, and others with conspiracies to distribute and import into the United States controlled substances, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846 and 963. The defendants were also charged with substantive counts of importation of controlled substances and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 952(a), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2. In addition, Filip Lucian Simion was charged in several counts of distribution of controlled substances by means of the Internet, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(h)(1)(A) and conspiracy to launder money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h).
The leader of the organization, Filip Lucian Simion, pleaded guilty on Monday, April 9, 2018, to one count of conspiracy to import into the United States controlled substances, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 963, and one count of conspiracy to launder money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h). Both charges carry a maximum possible penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment. Simion will be sentenced in Denver on August 30, 2018.
According to court documents, from January 2013, through May 3, 2016, members of the conspiracy imported kilogram quantities of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a Schedule I controlled substance commonly known as Ecstasy) into the United States via the mail from various countries in Europe. The transnational organization operated online as the Darknet vendor “ItalianMafiaBrussels” or “IMB” and operated on black markets, such as the now defunct Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0, to sell the MDMA throughout the United States and other countries. The organization accepted payment for the drugs in bitcoin.
This case was investigated by the Denver Illicit Digital Economy Working Group, comprised of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, in partnership with the Romanian Central Anti-Narcotics Unit in Bucharest, Romania, and the Belgian Federal Judicial Police, East Flanders Drug Unit in Dendermonde, Belgium. Other United States and international agencies assisting the working group in this investigation included: the Boulder County Drug Task Force, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices nationwide, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, Europol, and Eurojust.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele R. Korver.
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