Federal Government Takes Aim at $54M in Crypto Associated with New Jersey Narcotics Syndicate


U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said that the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil forfeiture case on November 2 to collect $54 million in bitcoin that it had previously confiscated and was linked to the earnings of an illicit drug distribution operation operating in and around New Jersey. 

Details about the complaint filed:

Christopher Castelluzzo and associates plotted to market several drugs between 2010 and 2015. 

  • In 2013, Castelluzzo and his accomplices started trading drugs for Bitcoin on darknet platforms. 
  • In July 2014, Castelluzzo participated in Ethereum’s Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and bought 30,000 Ether with some of the Bitcoin he had earned from selling drugs. 
  • In 2016, Castelluzzo was given 30,000 Ethereum Classic in cryptocurrency. 
  • Castelluzzo bought different other cryptocurrencies with the extra coin. 

The complaint demands that all of the bitcoin that Castelluzzo made from selling drugs be forfeited.

 Castelluzzo Behind Bars

Due to drug distribution charges, Castelluzzo is presently serving concurrent 20-year terms in both federal and state prisons. Due to these convictions, Castelluzzo was imprisoned. 

As Ethereum’s value rose, Castelluzzo devised a plan from behind bars to transfer the 30,000 Ether outside of the country and evade taxes. 

However, the United States intervened and seized Castelluzzo’s cryptocurrency holdings traceable to his drug trafficking activities in 2021 after learning of his attempts to launder the cryptocurrency through intercepted jail phone calls. This prevented Castelluzzo from achieving his goal.

The 30,000 Ethers are currently worth about $54 million.

Additional Information 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys DeNae M. Thomas of the Health Care Fraud Unit, Jordan M. Anger of the Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit, and Robert Frazer of the Organized Crime and Gangs Unit represent the government. 

The claims included in the complaint and its description are all that are made. The government’s attorneys will present evidence and arguments to support their claims in court. They will also work to ensure that the complaint accurately reflects the alleged crimes committed by Castelluzzo. 

Source: coinpedia.org

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