Fourth Defendant Charged with Selling Controlled Substances in Exchange for Virtual Currencies on the Dark Web
Two defendants sentenced for their participation in the scheme
A fourth defendant has been charged with selling controlled substances in exchange for virtual currencies on the Dark Web.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge, United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division; Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; Antonio J. Gomez, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division; and Mark Selby, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Joshua J. Kelly, a/k/a “USTOUS,” 32, of Cape Girardeau, MO, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to distribute in narcotics, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846, and one count of conspiracy to launder money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h) (Case No. 17-MJ-02572-JG).
In separate but related cases, Robert Kenneth Decker, a/k/a “DIGITALPOSSI2014,” 50, of Detroit, MI, (Case No. 16-CR-20769-DMM), and Chrissano S. Leslie, a/k/a “OWLCITY,” 26, of Lauderhill, FL, (Case No. 16-CR-60206-DTKH) were sentenced to 140 months and 70 months in prison, respectively, to be followed by three years of supervised release. These defendants both previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Leslie also pled guilty to one count of access device fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1029(a)(3), and one count of aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.
In another separate but related case, Kevin C. Fusco, a/k/a “POLIRA,” 29, of New York, NY, was charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering (Case No. 17-CR-20275-UU).
These cases are part of a criminal investigation into drug dealers operating on online through "Dark Web" criminal marketplaces designed to promote the anonymous sale of illegal items, such as narcotics, in exchange for Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
Specifically, since July of 2015, law enforcement identified a narcotics vendor known as OWLCITY (identified as defendant Leslie) appearing on several criminal Dark Web marketplaces. On several occasions, DEA agents made undercover online purchases of controlled substances from OWLCITY and received the purchased narcotics, to include fentanyl, heroin, and alpha-PVP, via U.S. Mail.
Since September of 2015, law enforcement identified a narcotics vendor known as POLIRA (identified as defendant Fusco) appearing on Dark Web marketplaces. POLIRA conducted at least 492 transactions on at least two of these marketplaces. On both marketplaces, POLIRA advertised MDMA. On several occasions, DEA agents made undercover online purchases of MDMA from POLIRA and received the MDMA via U.S. Mail.
Since October of 2015, law enforcement identified narcotics vendors known as USTOUS and DIGITALPOSSI2014 (identified as defendants Kelly and Decker, respectively) on numerous dark web marketplaces. USTOUS conducted thousands of transactions on numerous Dark Web marketplaces, and on all of these marketplaces, USTOUS advertised dangerous opioids, synthetic drugs and Schedule II controlled substances for sale, including: fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, alpha-PVP and oxycodone. On several occasions, DEA agents have made undercover online purchases of heroin, alpha-PVP ("Flakka") and MDMA from USTOUS and made undercover online purchases of hydrocodone from DIGITALPOSSI2014, and received the drugs via U.S. Mail.
These defendants conspired with the unknown administrators of criminal online marketplace websites to distribute controlled substances, and conspired with the unknown administrators of these websites to knowingly conduct financial transactions, in virtual currencies, involving the proceeds of unlawful narcotics trafficking activities, knowing that the transactions were designed to conceal and disguise the nature of the proceeds.
These matters are the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the DEA, IRS-CI, FBI, USPIS and ICE-HSI. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Maderal.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.