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April 11, 2018Denver, CO, United StatesNarcotics

Member of Darknet drug trafficking organization 'ItalianMafiaBrussels' sentenced to 3 years in federal prison

DENVER — A member of a Darknet drug trafficking organization was sentenced Wednesday to 36 months’ imprisonment for importing controlled substances.

U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, District of Colorado, announced this sentence.

This case was investigated by the Denver Illicit Digital Economy Working Group, comprised of the following agencies:  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation, 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.  Other U.S. and international agencies assisting the working group in this investigation included:  the Boulder County (Colorado) Drug Task Force, the Arapahoe County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office, the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices nationwide, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, Europol, and Eurojust.

Leonardo Cristea, 22, had previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to importing controlled substances into the United States. 

On May 3, 2016, in a joint U.S./European enforcement action, law enforcement dismantled the ItalianMafiaBrussels Drug Trafficking Organization, arresting 10 defendants during early morning raids in Bruges, Belgium and surrounding areas.  Cristea and Filip Lucian Simion were arrested simultaneously in Bucharest, Romania, and extradited to the District of Colorado in July and October 2016, respectively.

The nine-count indictment underlying the extraditions charged Simion, Leonardo Cristea, and others with conspiracies to distribute and import into the United States controlled substances.  The defendants were also charged with substantive counts of importing controlled substances, and aiding and abetting.  In addition, Simion was charged in several counts of distribution of controlled substances by means of the internet and conspiracy to launder money.

The leader of the organization, Simion, pleaded guilty on April 9, 2018, to one count of conspiracy to import into the United States controlled substances, and one count of conspiracy to launder money.  Both charges carry a maximum possible penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.  Simion will be sentenced in Denver on Aug. 30.

According to court documents, from January 2013, through May 3, 2016, members of the conspiracy imported kilogram quantities of MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a Schedule I controlled substance commonly known as Ecstasy) into the United States via the mail from various countries in Europe.  The transnational organization operated online as the Darknet vendor “ItalianMafiaBrussels” or “IMB,” and operated on black markets, such as the now defunct Silk Road and Silk Road 2.0, to sell the MDMA throughout the United States and other countries.  The organization accepted payment for the drugs in bitcoin.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele R. Korver, District of Colorado.