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Press Release

Plainwell Man, Benjamin Cance, Pleads Guilty To Illegal Arms Exportation, Money Laundering

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

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Pat Miles announced today that Benjamin James Cance pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell to federal charges of international arms trafficking and money laundering. The arms trafficking charge is punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years; the maximum penalty for money laundering is ten years in prison.

          In pretrial filings with the court, the government disclosed that Cance’s illegal dealings with his overseas customers were conducted through illegal internet sites, referred to as the "darknet." He also utilized electronic currencies, such as Bitcoin, to get paid for his services in an effort to hide the nature of his activities.

          A plea agreement filed in connection with the hearing disclosed that the government will move to dismiss a third charge, machine gun possession, at sentencing. Judge Bell was advised that Cance has been cooperating with U.S. and international law enforcement agencies against the recipients of many of his shipments in the United Kingdom, Poland and Germany. Judge Bell allowed Cance to remain on bond pending sentencing so this cooperation can continue.

          The case was assigned to Timothy VerHey, Assistant U.S. Attorney, for prosecution. Investigation of the case was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.


Updated January 8, 2016