Romania Extradites Deepweb Vendor to Face US Drug Charges
Romania extradited another suspect indicted in the Italian Mafia Brussels (IMB) case: Filip Lucian Simion. According to the DoJ, Simion has been charged with several counts of distribution of controlled substances by means of the Internet.
IMB was shut down in May after an international investigation. A total of 10 suspects were arrested in Belgium and surrounding areas. One suspect, Leonardo Cristea, had already been extradited by Romania to face the charges in the indictment.
Arrests were made on May 3, 2016, in a joint U.S./European enforcement sweep. A total of ten individuals were arrested during early morning raids throughout Bruges, Belgium and surrounding areas. Both extradited defendants, Filip Lucian Simion and Leonardo Cristea, were arrested as a pair in Bucharest, Romania. The remaining suspects/defendants will be prosecuted in Belgium.
In addition, local buyers who purchased MDMA from IMB have been arrested, court documents reveal. Packages were traced from the source to the US recipient. “In 2014 and 2015, several defendants were charged and convicted in the District of Colorado for distribution of MDMA sourced by the organization,” the DoJ wrote. According to court documents, the defendants provided law enforcement with information on IMB, Tor, and Bitcoin.
Both indicted men have been charged with all relevant exportation charges. Leonardo Cristea and Filip Lucian Simion were charged with with conspiracy to distribute and import controlled substances into the United States. Both were charged with separate counts of importation of controlled substances and aiding and abetting. However, the nine count indictment charged only Simion with the conspiracy to launder money.
Simion made his initial court appearance on Monday, October 17, 2016 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix.
If either men get convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.
The DoJ credits the investigation, arrest, and extradition to the following agencies:
Denver Illicit Digital Economy Working Group, comprised of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service, 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 United States and international agencies assisting the working group in this investigation included: the Boulder County Drug Task Force, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices nationwide, the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, ATF Atlanta, DEA Chicago, Europol, and Eurojust.
One last note of interest. In the court documents, investigators note that they are not capable of intercepting encrypted communications from RedPhone, Wickr, WhatsApp, and Signal.