Leader Of Darknet ItalianMafiaBrussels Drug Trafficking Organization Sentenced To 11 Years’ Imprisonment
DENVER – U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer announced that on September 26, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson sentenced Filip Lucian Simion, age 25, to 132 months (11 years) imprisonment for conspiracy to import controlled substances and launder money. Judge Jackson also ordered a personal money judgment against Simion in the amount of $850,000.00.
On May 3, 2016, in a joint U.S./European enforcement action, law enforcement dismantled the ItalianMafiaBrussels Drug Trafficking Organization, arresting ten defendants during early morning raids in Bruges, Belgium and surrounding areas. Filip Lucian Simion and Leonardo Cristea were arrested simultaneously in Bucharest, Romania, and extradited to the District of Colorado in July and October of 2016, respectively.
The nine-count indictment underlying the extraditions charged Filip Lucian Simion, Leonardo Cristea, and others with conspiracies to distribute and import into the United States controlled substances, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846 and 963. The defendants were also charged with substantive counts of importation of controlled substances and aiding and abetting, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 952(a), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2. In addition, Filip Lucian Simion was charged in several counts of distribution of controlled substances by means of the Internet, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(h)(1)(A) and conspiracy to launder money, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h).
The leader of the organization, Filip Lucian Simion, plead guilty in April to one count of conspiracy to import into the United States controlled substances, and one count of conspiracy to launder money.
The evidence from the investigation revealed that from January 2013, through May 3, 2016, members of the conspiracy imported kilogram quantities of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a Schedule I controlled substance commonly known as Ecstasy) into the United States via the mail from various countries in Europe. The transnational organization operated online as the Darknet vendor “ItalianMafiaBrussels” or “IMB” and used encrypted email and TOR-based online black markets, such as the now defunct Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0, to sell the MDMA, primarily to United States and Canadian customers. The organization accepted payment for the drugs in the cryptocurrency bitcoin. In 2014 and 2015, several defendants were charged and convicted in the District of Colorado for distribution of MDMA sourced by the organization.
“Let there be no mistake. As the internet has grown, so has the long arm of the law,” said U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “If you’re harming people in Colorado, no distance is a safe distance. We will find you, we will bring you here, and we will send you to federal prison.”
“The Darknet is a rapidly evolving network that enhances the ability of transnational criminal organizations to move illicit goods worldwide. The anonymity it provides, coupled with the use of cryptocurrencies to launder proceeds made this a complicated investigation. Our special agents were able to call on their expertise, as well as HSI’s broad investigative mandate, to contribute to shutting down the ItalianMafiaBrussels Drug Trafficking Organization. Colorado is safer now that this group will no longer be able to bring illegal narcotics to its cities,” said HSI Denver SAC Steve Cagen.
“This case highlights the broad reach of the law enforcement community when we bring together state, federal and international partners to dismantle worldwide criminal organizations. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service would like to commend all those who came together to bring down one of the world’s largest distributors of illicit drugs,” said Kevin Rho, Inspector in Charge of the Denver Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “This case sends a clear message that criminals who use the U.S. mail to send illegal narcotics to American citizens are not safe hiding behind cryptocurrency transactions and foreign borders. Postal Inspectors are steadfast in their commitment to protecting the American public, and USPS employees, from the hazards of drugs in the mail,” said Rho.
“This sentence sends a strong message to dark Web merchants of illegal goods that law enforcement is coming for them,” said Steven Osborne, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation.
This case was investigated by the Denver Illicit Digital Economy Working Group, comprised of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service, in partnership with the Romanian Central Anti-Narcotics Unit in Bucharest, Romania, and the Belgian Federal Judicial Police, East Flanders Drug Unit in Dendermonde, Belgium. Other United States and international agencies assisting the working group in this investigation included: the Boulder County Drug Task Force, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices nationwide, the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, Europol, and Eurojust.
The case was prosecuted by Michele R. Korver, Digital Currency Counsel at the DOJ Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Unit, on detail from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Colorado.