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FBI busts multi-million dollar crypto empire in New Jersey drug sting

TL;DR

  • New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney’s Office seized $54 million in crypto from a drug ring led by Christopher Castelluzzo.
  • The FBI traced and seized assets, revealing tax evasion and asset transfers.
  • The case sets a precedent for tackling financial crimes in the digital age, especially involving cryptocurrencies.

The US Attorney’s Office in New Jersey has taken decisive action against a notorious drug trafficking group. According to a filing, this group, linked to Christopher Castelluzzo and his associates Luke Atwell and Brian Krewson, is now facing a civil forfeiture action.  The case centers around their extensive use of cryptocurrencies in their illegal operations.

Cryptocurrency at the heart of the operation

The operation’s mastermind, Castelluzzo, currently serving two 20-year sentences, reportedly attempted to transfer a large sum of cryptocurrency to evade taxes. This move exposed the sophisticated financial underpinnings of their drug trafficking activities, revealing a heavy reliance on digital currencies.

FBI Agent James Dennehy highlighted the agency’s adeptness in tracking such illicit financial activities. Their success in seizing $54 million in cryptocurrency showcases the FBI’s ability to uncover and disrupt these modern criminal enterprises.

The confiscated amount, though significant, represents just a part of the group’s dealings. Since 2013, they have converted drug sale profits into various cryptocurrencies, not just Bitcoin. Their portfolio included major stakes in Ether, Chainlink, and Polkadot, among others.

Focus on Ether investments

A notable part of their digital assets was Ether, with 30,000 ETH seized. These were initially purchased during Ethereum‘s original ICO, demonstrating their early and diverse investment in cryptocurrencies.

US Attorney Phillip R. Sellinger underscored the commitment of the justice system to trace and recover proceeds from criminal activities. 

He said: The civil action we are taking today seeks to recover millions of dollars of cryptocurrency, which the defendant allegedly obtained from drug sales. Whether it’s as simple as bags of cash or as sophisticated as cryptocurrency, we will take the steps necessary to seize financial gains defendants obtain from criminal activity.”

This stance echoes the sentiments expressed in the aftermath of the SBF case verdict. It avoids casting cryptocurrencies in a negative light, instead emphasizing the illegality of proceeds derived from criminal activities, regardless of their form.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified profe

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Damilola Lawrence

Damilola is a crypto enthusiast, content writer, and journalist. When he is not writing, he spends most of his time reading and keeping tabs on exciting projects in the blockchain space. He also studies the ramifications of Web3 and blockchain development to have a stake in the future economy.

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