A 33-year-old man from Serbia has been extradited from Austria to the United States to face charges of running a criminal drug market called “Monopoly Market”.
According to an announcement from the US Department of Justice, the suspect, Milomir Desnica, is accused of facilitating $18 million in illegal drug transactions through his website.
The suspect was arrested in Austria in November 2022 and charged on July 26, 2022, with the Justice Ministry announcing the charges last Friday.
Desnica now faces one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.
Monopoly Market was a dark web market launched in 2019 to sell illegal narcotic substances including opioids, psychedelics, stimulants and prescription drugs.
The DOJ says Desnica personally checked each registered seller to make sure they had the illegal substances they claimed to be selling, even asking them to produce photographic evidence of their inventory.
The FBI’s Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force placed several orders on the market, totaling 100 grams of methamphetamine, proving the validity of the products being sold on the website.
Desnica allegedly used at least two cryptocurrency exchange services between April 2020 and July 2022 to hide the trail, launder the proceeds of his crime, and then sell the cryptocurrency to Serbian p2p traders for fiat currency.
In December 2021, American investigators seized Monopoly Market’s hosting server with the help of cyber police in Germany and Finland.
“Through analysis of the seized server, law enforcement identified records of narcotics sales facilitated by Monopoly, financial records documenting cryptocurrency payments on Monopoly, an online forum associated with Monopoly, communications from the Monopoly operator to suppliers, commission payment invoices, etc. “explains Ministry of Justice announcement.
In May 2023, an international law enforcement operation dubbed “SpecTor” arrested 288 vendors Monopoly market and seized 50.8 million euros ($55.9 million) in cash and cryptocurrency.
These arrests were made possible through the analysis of data retrieved from Monopoly’s server, exposing active buyers and sellers on the platform.
“Through a thorough analysis of these records, Desnica has been identified as the operator of Monopoly,” the DOJ announcement read.
Today, Desnica faces a life sentence, the maximum sentence for distributing methamphetamine, while the money laundering charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
If found guilty, Desnica will also have to forfeit any property related to his criminal activity, derived or obtained directly or indirectly from the sale of drugs on the darknet.