Romania Extradites Alleged Leader of "ItalianMafiaBrussels" Drug Trafficking Organization to Colorado for Prosecution
DENVER – Filip Lucian Simion, 23, was extradited from Romania to Denver, Colorado so he can face drug trafficking and money laundering charges, Acting United States Attorney Bob Troyer, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Denver Division Special Agent in Charge David Thompson and the Denver Division U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Craig Goldberg announced. On May 5, 2016, Simion was indicted, along with three others, for importation of controlled substances and money laundering. The defendant made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix. Co-defendant Leonardo Cristea, 25, arrived in the District of Colorado pursuant to an extradition order from Romania on July 29, 2016.
The investigation, which was initiated in July of 2013, resulted in numerous seizures of kilogram quantities of MDMA (3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a Schedule I controlled substance commonly known as Ecstasy) intended for importation into the United States via the mail from various countries in Europe. The organization operated online as the Darknet vendor “ItalianMafiaBrussels” or “IMB” and used encrypted email and TOR-based online black markets, such as the now defunct Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0, to sell the MDMA, primarily to United States and Canadian customers. The organization accepted payment for the drugs only in bitcoin. In 2014 and 2015, several defendants were charged and convicted in the District of Colorado for distribution of MDMA sourced by the organization.
On May 3, 2016, in a joint U.S./European enforcement action, law enforcement dismantled the ItalianMafiaBrussels Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO), arresting ten defendants during early morning raids in Bruges, Belgium and surrounding areas. The extradited defendants, Filip Lucian Simion and Leonardo Cristea, were arrested simultaneously in Bucharest, Romania. The remaining defendants, including two of the defendants named in the U.S. indictment, will be prosecuted in Belgium.
The nine count indictment charges defendants Leonardo Cristea, Ymran Djavatkhanov, Andy Nestor, and Filip Lucian Simion 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 are 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 is 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).
If convicted on any of the counts charged, Filip Lucian Simion and Leonardo Cristea face a maximum possible penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment. The defendants’ criminal history and the amount or weight of the drugs being imported are factors a judge will consider at sentencing.
This case was investigated by the Denver Illicit Digital Economy Working Group, comprised of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service, 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 Office of International Affairs, ATF Atlanta, DEA Chicago, Europol, and Eurojust.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney and Digital Currency Crimes Coordinator Michele R. Korver
The charges contained in the Indictment are allegations, and the defendants named are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.