FBI Busts Multi-Million Dollar Crypto Empire In New Jersey Drug Sting
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FBI Busts Multi-Million Dollar Crypto Empire In New Jersey Drug Sting

  • New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney’s Office seized $54 million in crypto from a drug ring led by Christopher Castelluzzo.
  • The FBI traced and seized assets, revealing tax evasion and asset transfers.
  • The case sets a precedent for tackling financial crimes in the digital age, especially involving cryptocurrencies.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey has taken significant action against a notorious drug trafficking organization. According to a filing, a  civil forfeiture lawsuit has been filed against this group, which is tied to Christopher Castelluzzo and his accomplices Luke Atwell and Brian Krewson.  The case revolves around their significant usage of bitcoins in their criminal activities.

The Operation Revolves Around Cryptocurrency

The architect of the plan, Castelluzzo, who is presently serving two 20-year sentences, allegedly sought to transfer a huge sum of bitcoin in order to escape taxes. This action revealed the complex financial underpinnings of their drug-trafficking operations, exposing a substantial dependence on digital currency.

FBI Agent James Dennehy emphasized the agency’s ability to track such illegal money activity. The FBI’s success in capturing $54 million in cryptocurrencies demonstrates the agency’s capacity to identify and disrupt modern criminal operations.

The confiscated amount, while substantial, represents only a portion of the group’s dealings. They have converted drug sale earnings into various cryptocurrencies, not simply Bitcoin, since 2013. Their holdings included significant shares in Ether, Chainlink, and Polkadot, among others.

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Focus on Ether Investments

Ether was a significant part of their digital assets, with 30,000 ETH seized. These were bought during Ethereum’s initial ICO, demonstrating their early and broad investment in cryptocurrencies.

US Attorney Phillip R. Sellinger emphasized the justice system’s dedication to tracking down and recovering proceeds from criminal activity. 

He stated, “The civil action we are bringing today seeks to recover millions of dollars in cryptocurrency obtained by the defendant through drug sales.” We will take the appropriate steps to seize financial assets obtained by defendants from criminal behavior, whether they are as simple as bags of cash or as sophisticated as cryptocurrency.”

This position is consistent with the opinions stated in the aftermath of the SBF case verdict. It avoids portraying cryptocurrencies negatively, instead emphasizing the illegality of earnings earned from illicit activity in any form.

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