Maryland man sentenced to over three years in federal prison for purchasing and distributing drugs through the dark web


The defendant laundered the drug proceeds by converting Bitcoin into cash, and through a series of transactions, transferring the money into bank accounts he controlled

Date: April 20, 2023


U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced Vishesh Aragam Guruprasad, of Boyds, Maryland yesterday to 42 months in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release, for a drug distribution conspiracy involving the purchase and sale of drugs through dark web marketplaces, and money laundering.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Acting Special Agent in Charge Kareem A. Carter of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation ("IRS-CI") Washington, D.C. Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") - Washington Field Division; Postal Inspector in Charge Damon E. Wood of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Crosby of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF") Baltimore Field Division; and Chief Marcus Jones of the Montgomery County Police Department.

According to his guilty plea, between at least July 2016 and February 2019, Aragam conspired to distribute and possessed with the intent to distribute over two kilograms of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as MDMA. Specifically, Aragam admitted that he bought and sold illegal narcotics, including MDMA and marijuana, on various darkweb marketplaces. For example, between July 15, 2016 and June 13, 2017, Aragam sold over two kilograms of MDMA on one darkweb marketplace and from October 2018 to April 2019, Aragam completed over 1,000 transactions selling MDMA, heroin, or marijuana through another darkweb marketplace. Aragam's darkweb customers paid for the narcotics in Bitcoin, which the darkweb marketplace would maintain until Aragam transferred to Bitcoin to a virtual currency wallet Aragam maintained. Aragam used a virtual currency exchange to broker the exchange of Bitcoin to cash.

Aragam admitted that he obtained distribution quantities of MDMA from the United Kingdom, which he sold to drug customers throughout the United States over the darkweb. Aragam had the MDMA shipped from the United Kingdom to the post office boxes of co-conspirators, who would then deliver the drugs to Aragam. As detailed in the plea agreement, Aragam also sold drugs from his residence.

As stated in his plea agreement, Aragam routed the proceeds from his sale of illegal narcotics through several accounts and converted the proceeds from Bitcoins to U.S. dollars to conceal the nature and source of the proceeds. For example, on June 30, 2017, Aragam transferred 18 Bitcoins from a darkweb marketplace to his virtual currency account at Exchange A, and a few days later, exchanged the 18 Bitcoins into U.S. dollars. Aragam transferred $41,822.05, the value of the 18 Bitcoins as of that date, to Aragam's virtual wallet spend account at his bank, then, in a series of transactions, moved the money into other accounts Aragam controlled.

A search warrant executed at Aragam's residence on April 4, 2019, recovered four rifles and a shotgun, more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition, 92.83 grams of MDMA, marijuana, and one gram of a mixture containing phenylethyl and fentanyl.

This case is also part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the IRS-CI, the DEA, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the ATF, and the Montgomery County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher M. Sarma and Leah B. Grossi, who prosecuted the case.