U.S. authorities seized more than $200,000 worth of bitcoin after alleged drug manufacturer and dealer met with undercover law enforcement officers to exchange the digital currency for cash at a hotel in Norwood, Massachusetts.
The arrest — which occurred on March 27, 2019 — was part of a wider investigation into a Boston-based drug syndicate that operated through the darknet site EastSideHigh.
During the investigation, an undercover federal agent ordered MDMA from the “EastSideHigh” vendors. Later this officer allegedly observed Binh Thanh Le, 22, deposit an envelope containing the agent’s order into a United States Postal Service collection box in Stoughton, a neighborhood in Boston.
Agents devised a sting meeting with Le, arresting him after he transferred bitcoin to the agents. It is unclear if Le collaborated with the federal agents throughout the investigation.
Le’s conspirators, Steven McCall, 23, and Allante Pires, 22, were later arrested on charges of conspiring to make and distribute controlled substances, including MDMA, Ketamine, and Xanax.
According to the charging documents, Le, McCall, and Pires received wholesale quantities of controlled substances in the mail. The three men then processed and manufactured those controlled substances at an office space they rented in Stoughton. Pursuant to federal search warrants, numerous envelopes containing narcotics connected to this drug distribution scheme were intercepted.
The arrests were made following the execution of a search warrant at their office space. Upon entry, the agents found and arrested McCall, who was wearing latex gloves and a respirator, believed to be in the process of filling drug orders.
During the search, agents found a computer with the EastSideHigh vendor page open, and numerous packages containing MDMA and Ketamine, various shipping and packaging materials, and a pill press. In total, authorities also seized 20 kilograms of MDMA, more than seven kilograms of Ketamine, over 10,000 Xanax pills, and more than $100,000 in cash.
All three men were indicted yesterday in federal court in Boston on charges of conspiring to manufacture and distribute controlled substances.
Postal truck fleet photo via ShutterStock
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.