Man sentenced to 3 years in prison for operating unlicensed Bitcoin trading business in the United States – Regulating Bitcoin News
The US Department of Justice stated that a California man was sentenced to three years in prison for “operating an unlicensed business, trading at least $13 million in bitcoin and cash, usually for drug dealers”. He agreed to confiscate various assets, including seized cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin trading operator sentenced to 3 years in prison
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Thursday that California man Hugo Sergio Mejia was sentenced to 36 months in prison for “operating an unlicensed business, trading at least $13 million in bitcoin and cash, usually for drug traffickers.”
50-year-old man in San Bernardino County Plead On July 1, the U.S. Department of Justice detailed the charges of “an unlicensed remittance business and a crime of money laundering”.
From May 2018 to September 2020, Mejia ran a cryptocurrency trading business that converts Bitcoin to cash, and vice versa. He charges commissions for these transactions, but has never registered his business on the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN). In addition, he also set up companies to cover up his real activities, including Worldwide Secure Communications LLC, World Secure Data and The HODL Group LLC. The Ministry of Justice explained in detail:
In the past 2.5 years, according to the plea agreement, Mejia has exchanged at least 13 million US dollars.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Mejia met with a client who worked with law enforcement several times between May 2009 and March 2020 to “convert Bitcoin into tens of thousands of dollars in cash.”
When exchanging 14.273 bitcoins for $82,150 in cash plus fees in March 2020, a customer cooperating with law enforcement told Mejia, “His main customer is a methamphetamine buyer in Australia. The price of methamphetamine and sold in Australia is five times higher than the average price in the United States,” the Department of Justice explained.
The Ministry of Justice noted that “Mejia has conducted five Bitcoin Cash transactions with clients working with law enforcement agencies, with a cumulative total of more than $250,000,” adding:
As part of the plea agreement with the government, Mejia agreed to confiscate all assets obtained from illegal activities, including $233,987 in cash, silver coins and silver bars seized from residences in Santa Ana and Ontario, as well as approximately $95,587 in various cryptocurrencies.
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