Busted in Austria and later on extradited to the USA, that’s what happened to the Serbian man behind the famous Monopoly market on the dark web.
While still not convicted, 33-year-old Milomir Desnica has been brought to the USA in order to face multiple charges. The Monopoly marketplace is said to have facilitated more than $18 million in various drug transactions.
Desnica was identified after months of deep investigations. He was arrested in Austria at the end of 2022. He’s currently in the USA facing a few counts related to money laundering and drug possession and distribution.
A few words about the Monopoly market
The Monopoly market came to life in 2019. It was exclusively launched on the dark web and had the primary purpose to ease connections between drug dealers and consumers. Basically, it facilitated access to all kinds of substances, from prescription drugs and opioids to stimulants and steroids.
According to the investigation, it seems that Desnica took this market to a different level, personally verifying each supplier or dealer. To ensure they actually have what they claim, he even asked some of them to provide photo evidence of their stock.
How the investigation went on
Despite different attempts to stay anonymous, the Monopoly market leader was caught. The operation was run by the FBI. Several agents posed as actual consumers and placed more orders on the Monopoly market.
Overall, they gained about 100g of methamphetamine. The purpose was to obtain samples and substances that could be later used as evidence. Furthermore, the authorities wanted to double check the validity of the drugs sold through Monopoly.
Since the dark web is accessible from anywhere in the world with the right tools, it is believed drugs sold through the Monopoly market were distributed all over the world.
At the same time, Desnica relied on cryptocurrency to keep his identity private. He used two exchange services over a few years in order to launder the money coming from the sales and hide his trace. The cryptocurrency obtained from these transactions was then sold to Serbian traders for fiat currencies.
Happy with the evidence obtained over a few years of investigations, the FBI managed to seize the hosting server of the market. Relying on cyber police from Finland and Germany, too, the FBI got their hands on the server and all the information associated with it.
It took the investigators more weeks to check out all the information from the seized server. However, they managed to find details of multiple narcotic transactions made through Monopoly. Furthermore, they found details regarding cryptocurrency transactions, invoices, communication logs, and much more.
A first big hit for Monopoly
Desnica wasn’t touched straight away. Based on the data obtained from seizing the server, the authorities launched Operation SpecTor, which led to the arrest of 288 Monopoly users, both dealers, and consumers, using the market for their transactions.
The international operation also led to the capture of over $55.9 million in both cryptocurrency and fiat money. The data from the seized server exposed anyone involved, including the most prolific dealers on the market.
No one knew who was behind the dark web market, but further investigations into the logs led to Desnica.
Arrest or exit scam?
The market was seized and closed after international authorities managed to identify the man behind it. It went down straight away, but for many, this was not just a legal problem. Many of the Monopoly users had no clue about the real reason behind the closure.
There are multiple speculations regarding the market. Some users believed the management found the perfect exit scam to get out with lots of money and never be seen again. Later on, official news revealed the real reason behind the closure.
What happens now?
The Monopoly market will never make it back on the dark web, at least not legally. As for Desnica, the man behind Monopoly, charges against him are likely to get him sentenced for a long period of time.
The maximum sentence for distributing methamphetamine is a life sentence, so there's a risk for the authorities to push for it. On the other hand, talking about maximum sentences, money laundering can lead to up to 20 years in prison.
If he ends up convicted, Desnica will also have to cease all the property associated with his criminal activity, whether direct or indirect. Anything related to his sales on the dark web must be confiscated according to the law.
Despite being a citizen of both Serbia and Croatia, Milomir Desnica is very likely to complete his penalty in the USA. Given the severity of these charges, chances are he’ll end up spending years behind bars.
Such procedures and trials do take time though, sometimes up to years if the evidence is not conclusive enough.