Globally, law enforcement authorities have rounded up 150 potential criminals involved in money laundering and international drug trafficking in an operation dubbed Operation Dark HunTor. Among those, law enforcement in Las Vegas arrested four suspects. Their money-laundering activity and drug ring included operations in several countries, as well as the use of the dark web.
The Arrests Were Revealed on Tuesday
On Tuesday, the US Justice Department revealed the arrests and stated that 65 of the suspects are from the US. According to Nevada media outlet KSNV, agents seized a total of $31.6 million in both cryptocurrencies and cash. Additionally, the identities of the four Las Vegas suspects were revealed as Abraham Elliott, Joseph Krieger, Paul Engstrom and Vincent Cuomo.
As reports state, the aforementioned individuals were using the dark web to distribute cocaine. As reported by KSNV, which cited federal sources, the charges against them include aiding and abetting, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute illegal substances and distribution.
Additionally, KSNV reported that Elliott, Engstrom and Cuomo used stash houses in the Las Vegas Valley to receive and package cocaine, while Krieger reportedly mailed envelopes for the operation. Prosecutors stated that federal authorities seized around 44 envelopes and each of these tested positive for a cocaine substance. In total, around 11 pounds (five kilograms) of cocaine was seized.
Authorities also claim that Engstrom used the proceed from the operation to convert cryptocurrency into cash.
DEA Also Active in June
This year resulted in quite a lot of money-laundering cases. In June, DEA agents raided two stash houses, which were also located in the Las Vegas Valley. The raid resulted in seizing approximately 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) of suspected cocaine.
As stated in a statement by the Justice Department, there were a total of 150 suspects, some of whom were alleged illegal drug traffickers, that sold illegal goods and services in countries such as the UK, the US, Italy, Australia, France, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. Worldwide, authorities seized 515 pounds (234 kilograms) of drugs.
The seized substances included 335 pounds (151.2 kilograms) of amphetamines, suspected cocaine of around 47 pounds (21.6 kilograms), MDMA of around 71.6 pounds (32.5 kilograms) and opioids of around 59.3 pounds (26.9 kilograms). An additional 200,000 methamphetamine, oxycodone, ecstasy, fentanyl and hydrocodone pills, as well as counterfeit medicine, were also seized.
In October 2020, two California brothers were apprehended at the parking garage of Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas. As KLAS, a local TV station, reported, the brothers tried to sell 100 pounds of meth for a price of $300,000.
International Drug Trafficking Not Slowing Down
Lisa Monaco, US Deputy Attorney General, added that the DoJ and its international partners will continue to push forward and shut down lethal counterfeit opioids that are purchased on the dark net. There aren’t any details on whether Las Vegas gaming properties were included in the case somehow.
Authorities also confiscated 45 firearms in the latest operation. Monaco said that the 10-month law-enforcement operation involved dozens of international and domestic law enforcement agencies and spanned across three continents. Its goal was to send a clear message to peddle drugs on the dark net – “there’s no dark Internet.”