A 35-year-old man from Northern Portugal was sentenced to 76 months in prison for dark web drug trafficking and money laundering. The defendant will also forfeit bitcoins and possessions seized during his arrest. The defendant ran the drug trafficking operation with the help of his girlfriend who was acquitted.
Pedro, 35 and Rita, 34 reportedly purchased drugs on the dark web and then resold them via a vendor’s account on the now-defunct AlphaBay marketplace under the pseudonym “Dailyfix.” The couple accepted orders from all over the world and received payments in bitcoins. They then packaged the drugs in vacuum-sealed bags and hid them in boxes of legal products to avoid interception. They also used fake return addresses when shipping the drug packages to avoid arrest in case the packages got seized.
The couple was arrested in July 2017 following two months of an investigation coordinated by the National Narcotics Trafficking Unit (UNCTE) of the Judicial Police (PJ). Their arrest led to the seizure of large quantities of drugs, electronic devices, and cash. The investigators also seized over one hundred labeled drug packages. Analysis on the electronic devices led to the seizure of 64.2898 bitcoins were found in a number of wallets. While announcing the couple’s arrest the PJ disclosed that they were able to circumvent measures put in place by the couple to hide its identities and location
During the investigation, the investigators identified three methods used by the couple to launder profits made from drug sales.
The couple passed the bitcoins through a bitcoin tumbler after which they transferred them to a wallet installed in one of their computers. They then transferred the bitcoins to their Local Bitcoins accounts where they sold them for cash in hand or through direct bank transfers.
The defendants moved the bitcoins to their Kraken wallets and exchanged them for cash. They transferred the euros from bitcoin sales to wallets they held with LeoPay. LeoPay gave them debit cards that enabled them to spend the money anywhere and make withdrawals from any ATM. They reportedly deposited 50, 246.10 euros into their LeoPay accounts through this method.
They moved the bitcoins to Xapo wallets after passing them through a tumbler. Xapo gave them bitcoin-based debit cards that allowed them to spend the bitcoins without selling.
During the sentencing hearing, Pedro told the court that he was responsible for the operation. Pedro’s testimony acquitted Rita and earned him 6 years and 4 months in prison for aggravated drug trafficking and money laundering. The defendants were also ordered to forfeit all the bitcoins and money seized during their arrest.