Former US Army Interpreter Gets 30 Years for Dark Web Fentanyl Trade


A former interpreter for the United States military forces was sentenced to 30 years in jail for dealing fentanyl, which led to the death of a U.S. Marine.

Drugs paid for with cryptocurrencies

According to a Reuters report from Oct. 3, a former Iraqi U.S interpreter was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison without the possibility of parole for using the darknet to sell fentanyl. 

Alaa Mohammed Allawi pleaded guilty to the drug charges and acknowledged using the now-defunct online darknet market Alpha Bay to sell a variety of hard drugs, such as oxycodone laced with fentanyl, while accepting payments in cryptocurrencies. 

In 2017, Allawi’s drug exploits eventually led to the death of a Marine, who took one of his pills at a party while stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Special agent, Will Glaspy, said:

“From his use of the dark web, to his clandestine manufacturing of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, to his drug sales targeting college students, Allawi operated with little concern for the people in our communities.”

Crypto and illegal drug sales

Cointelegraph previously reported that according to Ciphertrace’s report on Anti-Money Laundering, almost all drugs sold on darknet marketplaces are purchased with cryptocurrencies. The darknet provides an environment that is attractive, lucrative and, for the most part, safe for illegal drug traffickers. 

Professor Talis Putnins, co-author of an influential University of Technology Sydney report on cryptocurrency and illegal drugs, had this to say about cryptocurrencies:

“Cryptocurrencies have fundamentally transformed the way illegal drugs are bought and sold, shifting much of the activity from a cash-based, physical ‘on the street’ market to an online marketplace.The online illegal drugs trade needed two fundamental things to take off. One is an anonymous communications platform, which was provided by the darknet and underpinned by TOR (an anonymous communications protocol). And the second important piece was an anonymous or private way of making digital payments that was difficult to trace by authorities. That is the role that cryptocurrencies have played. Thus, they are an integral part of the online drugs trade.”

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