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Alleged Admin of Darknet Marketplace Monopoly Market Extradited to US


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Alleged Admin of Darknet Marketplace Monopoly Market Extradited to US

The suspected administrator of the Monopoly Market darknet marketplace has been extradited from Austria to face charges in the U.S. The man, a citizen of Serbia and Croatia who was arrested in Vienna last November, has been accused of facilitating $18 million in illegal drug transactions using cryptocurrencies.

DNM Administrator Charged in U.S. With Running Drug Market on the Dark Web

Austrian authorities announced on Monday they have extradited to the United States the alleged administrator of a large darknet market (DNM) known as Monopoly Market. Milomir Desnica, a 33-year-old resident of the Serbian town of Smederevska Palanka, was handed over on Friday, the Associated Press reported.

Desnica has been accused by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) of running the Monopoly Market site and facilitating $18 million in illegal transactions related to drug trade using cryptocurrencies. The dark web marketplace was shut down in December 2021 when its servers were seized.

Last month, Europol unveiled the results of a major operation, conducted in collaboration with law enforcement agencies from Europe, the U.S., the U.K., and Brazil, which led to 288 arrests and the seizure of over $53 million in cash and crypto assets, along with drugs and weapons.

The charges against Desnica, unsealed on May 25, were announced by the DOJ on June 23. He was indicted on July 26, 2022, by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. The indictment also seeks confiscation of all criminal proceeds.

On the Monopoly servers seized in 2021, investigators found records of the narcotics sales facilitated by Monopoly, financial records documenting cryptocurrency payments on Monopoly, and communications with vendors which helped to identify Desnica as the DNM’s operator.

The authorities allege that between April 2020 and July 2022 Milomir Desnica used at least two crypto exchanges to convert his cryptocurrency, moving the digital money between blockchains before eventually selling it to peer-to-peer traders in Serbia for fiat in order to launder the proceeds from the drug sales.

The DOJ detailed that the drug distribution charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison while the charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering can result in a maximum term of 20 years in prison. The charges also carry potential financial penalties, the department added.

Monopoly Market and other darknet markets have been a major target for law enforcement agencies around the world. In April 2022, police in Germany shut down what was then one of the largest DNMs, Hydra, which was focused on Russian-speaking users.

Do you think law enforcement authorities will shut down other DNMs in the near future? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

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