DENVER — The alleged leader of an organization that illegally imported the drug “ecstasy” from Europe into the United States was extradited from Romania to Denver, Colorado, where he will face drug trafficking and money laundering charges.
Filip Lucian Simion, 23, made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix Oct. 17. Three others were also indicted for importing controlled substances and money laundering.
This investigation, led by the Denver Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), began in July 2013 and resulted in numerous seizures of kilogram-quantities of MDMA (3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a Schedule I controlled substance commonly known as ecstasy). The criminal organization that Simion allegedly led operated online as the Darknet vendor “ItalianMafiaBrussels” or “IMB.” It used encrypted email and TOR-based online black markets, such as the now defunct Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0, to sell MDMA, primarily to U.S. and Canadian customers. The drug trafficking organization accepted payment for the drugs only in bitcoin, a virtual currency vendor. In 2014 and 2015, several defendants were charged and convicted in the District of Colorado for distributing MDMA sourced by the organization.
On May 3, 2016, in a joint U.S.-European enforcement action, law enforcement dismantled the ItalianMafiaBrussels Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) by arresting 10 defendants during early morning raids in Bruges, Belgium, and surrounding areas. The extradited defendants, Filip Lucian Simion and Leonardo Cristea, were arrested simultaneously in Bucharest, Romania. The remaining defendants, including two of the defendants named in the U.S. indictment, will be prosecuted in Belgium.
The nine-count indictment charges the following four defendants with conspiracy to distribute and import into the United States controlled substances: Leonardo Cristea, Ymran Djavatkhanov, Andy Nestor, and Filip Lucian Simion. The defendants are also charged with substantive counts of importing controlled substances, and aiding and abetting. In addition, Filip Lucian Simion is charged in several counts of distributing controlled substances via the internet, and conspiracy to launder money.
On May 5, Simion was indicted, along with three others, for importation of controlled substances and money laundering. Co-defendant Leonardo Cristea, 25, arrived in the District of Colorado pursuant to an extradition order from Romania July 29.
If convicted on any of the counts charged, Filip Lucian Simion and Leonardo Cristea face a maximum possible penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment. The defendants’ criminal history and the amount of the drugs imported are factors the judge would consider at sentencing.
This case was investigated by the Denver Illicit Digital Economy Working Group, which is comprised of the following agencies: HSI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Internal Revenue Service. This working group operated in partnership with the Romanian Central Anti-Narcotics Unit in Bucharest, Romania, and the Belgian Federal Judicial Police, East Flanders Drug Unit in Dendermonde, Belgium. The following other U.S. and international agencies assisted the working group in this investigation: Boulder County (Colorado) Drug Task Force; Arapahoe County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office; Boulder County District Attorney’s Office; U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices nationwide; Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in Atlanta; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Chicago; Europol; and Eurojust.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney and Digital Currency Crimes Coordinator Michele R. Korver, District of Colorado.