Three darknet vendors have been sentenced to lengthy terms in prison in Iowa, United States.
One of the three received a life sentence, while the others will spend 18 and 33 months in prison respectively. They were all prolific on the darknet, specialising in distributing opiate-based drugs, which are one of the most popular sections on darknet marketplaces.
The arrests have been seen as a massive victory for the Dubuque Drug Task Force, which went undercover to sting the three suspects by purchasing heroin from them in a park next to a local elementary school.
Upon raiding each of the suspects’ houses, it found large quantities of crack cocaine, heroin and fentanyl.
The @FBI sold the 144,336 bitcoins its confiscated from Silk Road for $48 million. They would now be worth $2.4 billion
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) December 14, 2017
The darknet crossed over to the mainstream when the Silk Road founder, Ross Ulbricht, was handed a life sentence.
The way in which users did this with a layer of anonymity was by using Bitcoin as payment. This brought a great deal of negative attention to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general, with many claiming that their purpose was for borderless payments in the multi-billion dollar drug trade.
However, as the cryptocurrency space has matured, more and more startups have launched their companies on the blockchain, proving that the technology has a real business use-case.
The FBI has worked hard to rid the cryptocurrency world of these marketplaces over the past five years, closing down Silk Road, AlphaBay, Hansa, Agora and many more. But this isn’t to say the element of criminality has been removed completely.
It must be noted that while cryptocurrency is viewed pejoratively by many, fiat currency is still used in the vast majority of transactions in the drug trade and money laundering, with Danske Bank being caught out for washing more than €200 billion in illicit cash over the past few years.