Cyber chronicle, 28.06.2023, 10:30 AM
The US Attorney’s Office raised indictment against a 33-year-old citizen of Croatia and Serbia from Smederevska Palanka, Milomir Desnica, for allegedly operating a narcotics trading platform called Monopoly Market on the dark web.
Desnica is accused of starting and running Monopoly since the end of 2019. The platform was used to sell narcotics, including opioids, stimulants, psychedelics and prescription drugs.
In order to sell on Monopoly, sellers had to fill out an application that included a description of the goods they wanted to sell and photos of the inventory, and agree to pay a commission for sales made through Monopoly. Desnica reviewed and approved all applications, so there is no doubt that he knew that drugs were being sold on his website. He earned about $18 million in cryptocurrency from transactions on the platform, the US Department of Justice said.
According to the indictment, Desnica was wanted since last July, and he was recently extradited to the USA from Austria, where he was arrested in November last year. The charges against him include money laundering, as well as possession and distribution of approximately 50 grams of methamphetamine.
Desnica allegedly used at least two services to launder ill-gotten cryptocurrency. He then sold the cryptocurrency to Serbian P2P traders in an attempt to “clean” his earnings, prosecutors said.
If found guilty, Desnica could face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine.
Last month, Europol announced that 288 people had been arrested, suspected of being involved in the narcotics trade at Monopoly Market. The arrests came two years after German authorities secretly took control of the market’s infrastructure, causing the site to suddenly shut down in December 2021. Because of this, site users suspected that they had been scammed and that site administrators had simply disappeared with their money.
However, it was only a change of tactics. The police did not want, as is usual, to warn users that a police action is underway with a notice about the seizure of the site. This decision proved to be the right one, as it resulted in a record number of arrests, surpassing 150 post-closure arrests dark market and 179 after shutdown Wall Street Marketa.
The operation allowed the police to secretly monitor drug sales and payments on the site, as well as communications between the site operator and sellers. It was through this investigation that the police identified Desnica as the person who manages the site.
The shutdown of Monopoly Market was one of the largest police actions taken against a marketplace on the dark web. In addition to the arrests, police seized more than $53.4 million in cash and virtual currencies, as well as 850 kilograms of drugs.