Indian national pleads guilty to running dark web drug enterprise in US

According to court documents, Banmeet Singh from Haldwani in Uttarakhand created vendor marketing sites on dark web marketplaces to sell controlled substances

Washington: A 40-year-old Indian national extradited from the UK has pleaded guilty to operating a global dark web enterprise to sell “deadly and dangerous drugs to communities across America” and agreed to forfeit approximately USD 150 million in cryptocurrency.

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According to court documents, Banmeet Singh from Haldwani in Uttarakhand created vendor marketing sites on dark web marketplaces to sell controlled substances, including fentanyl, LSD, ecstasy, Xanax, Ketamine, and Tramadol, the US Department of Justice said in a press release.

Customers ordered controlled substances from Singh using the vendor sites and by paying with cryptocurrency. Singh then personally shipped or arranged the shipment of the drugs from Europe to America through US mail or other shipping services, the release said on Friday.

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“Banmeet Singh and traffickers like him think they can operate anonymously on the dark web and evade prosecution…Today’s guilty plea, which includes forfeiture of approximately USD 150 million in cryptocurrency, demonstrates that the Justice Department will hold criminals who violate US law accountable no matter how they conceal their activity,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M Argentieri of the justice department’s Criminal Division said.

From mid-2012 through July 2017, Singh controlled at least eight distribution cells within the US, including cells located in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, North Dakota, and Washington, among other locations. Individuals in those distribution cells received drug shipments from overseas and then re-packaged and re-shipped the drugs to locations in all 50 states, Canada, England, Ireland, Jamaica, Scotland, and the US Virgin Islands, the release said.

“Banmeet Singh operated a global dark web enterprise to send fentanyl and other deadly and dangerous drugs to communities across America — in all 50 states — as well as Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean,” said Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Over the course of the conspiracy, Singh moved hundreds of kilograms of controlled substances throughout the US and established a multimillion-dollar drug enterprise which laundered millions of dollars of drug proceeds into cryptocurrency accounts, which ultimately became worth approximately USD 150 million.

In April 2019, Singh was arrested in London, and the US secured his extradition in 2023.

Singh pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

He faces an agreed upon sentence of eight years in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors, the release said.

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