Banmeet Singh, a 40-year-old Indian national, has confessed to operating a massive narcotics enterprise that spanned continents and sent shockwaves through the cybercrime world. This revelation comes after the largest cryptocurrency and cash seizure in the history of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), with a staggering $150 million in forfeited crypto assets.
Singh’s criminal saga, characterized by the sophisticated use of the dark web and cryptocurrency, serves as a notable chapter in the ongoing battle against digital-age drug trafficking. It highlights the evolving landscape of criminal networks and their adaptation to the digital era.
A Web of Global Narcotics Trade
At the core of Singh’s illicit empire was his adept use of the dark web’s anonymity. He created vendor marketing sites on notorious marketplaces such as Silk Road 1 and 2, Alpha Bay, Hansa, and others. These digital storefronts offered a range of controlled substances, catering to a global clientele that included fentanyl, LSD, ecstasy, Xanax, Ketamine, and Tramadol.
Singh’s operation ran like a well-oiled machine. Customers used cryptocurrency to purchase drugs, which were then dispatched from Europe to the U.S., often through the U.S. mail or other shipping services. Singh personally oversaw or arranged these shipments, allowing him to fly under the radar.
Distribution Cells and Global Reach
From mid-2012 to July 2017, Singh orchestrated at least eight distribution cells across the United States, with a significant presence in states like Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, North Dakota, and Washington. These cells were responsible for receiving drug shipments from overseas, repackaging them, and distributing them to various locations, including all 50 U.S. states and several countries such as Canada, England, Ireland, Jamaica, Scotland, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Singh’s reign over his dark web empire came to an end with his arrest in London in April 2019. His extradition to the United States in 2023 marked a crucial milestone in this extensive investigation. Facing charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to commit money laundering, Singh is now one of eight convicted members of this trafficking organization.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene commented:
Banmeet Singh is designated as a Consolidated Priority Target, which makes him one of the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world.
Collaboration and Global Efforts
This landmark case was made possible through a collaborative effort involving various agencies, including the IRS’ Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and local law enforcement. The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency, Crown Prosecution Service, and Central Authority also provided invaluable support, demonstrating the global scope and cooperation necessary to dismantle such a complex network.
“In the Singh organization’s drug orders, the members frequently used the vendor name ‘Liston’ and signed off with the signature phrase, ‘I’m still dancing.’ Today, with Banmeet Singh’s plea of guilty, the dance is over,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Hunter and Trial Attorney Emily Cohen spearheaded the prosecution, contributing to this significant victory for law enforcement. The case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation, highlighting the multi-agency, intelligence-driven approach essential in combating high-level drug traffickers and money launderers.
A Blow to Cybercrime and the Dark Web
“Banmeet Singh is designated as a Consolidated Priority Target, which makes him one of the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene.
“He is responsible for shipping massive quantities of deadly drugs throughout the United States, mostly purchased on the internet and sent through the mail. His criminal enterprise has caused untold suffering to perhaps tens of thousands of people throughout the country. Along with our global network of law enforcement partners, the investigation into his associates will continue, wherever they operate, until the threat to our communities has been stopped.”
As the world of crime continues to evolve with technology, cases like Singh’s serve as a sobering reminder of the relentless efforts needed to pursue and prosecute individuals exploiting the anonymity of the digital world for illegal activities. With the surrender of $150 million in crypto assets, this case not only delivers a significant financial blow to the world of cybercrime but also represents a milestone in the fight against the dark web’s narcotics trade.