Milomir Desnica, a citizen of Croatia and Serbia, has been extradited from Austria to face charges of running a darknet narcotics marketplace known as monopoly market. The charges were announced by United States Attorney Matthew M. Graves and Acting Special Agent in Charge Sarah Linden of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal and Cyber Division. Desnica, 33, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking all proceeds of the alleged crimes.
According to the indictment, Desnica launched and operated a darknet marketplace, known as Monopoly Market, for the purpose of selling illicit narcotics including opioids, stimulants, psychedelics, and prescription medications, among other drugs. Vendors had to complete an application to sell their products on Monopoly, which included providing descriptions of the drugs they wanted to sell, photographic proof of their inventory, and an agreement to pay a commission for sales completed through Monopoly. As the operator of Monopoly, Desnica reviewed and approved these applications and was aware that vendors were selling narcotics on his website.
In 2021, law enforcement within the United States placed and received numerous orders for narcotics on Monopoly from various vendors. Authorities were able to order more than 100 grams of methamphetamine on Monopoly. In December 2021, in coordination with foreign law enforcement partners in Germany and Finland, the computer server hosting Monopoly was seized and taken offline. Through analysis of the seized server, law enforcement identified records of the narcotics sales facilitated by Monopoly, financial records documenting cryptocurrency payments on Monopoly, an online forum associated with Monopoly, communications from the Monopoly operator to vendors, commission payment invoices and more. Through extensive analysis of these records, Desnica was identified as the operator of Monopoly.
It is further alleged that between at least April 2020 and July 2022, Desnica used at least two cryptocurrency exchange services to exchange his illicit cryptocurrency, moving between blockchains used to document all cryptocurrency transactions to “clean” his illicit proceeds. Desnica then sold the illicit cryptocurrency to Serbia-based peer-to-peer traders in exchange for fiat currency — all in an effort to launder the proceeds of the illicit narcotics sales.
In November 2022, in coordination with the Austrian Fugitive Active Search Team (FAST) and the Public Prosecutors Office Vienna, Desnica was located and arrested in Austria. Law enforcement conducted a search of his residence and vehicle, seizing electronics and cash.
Desnica will be arraigned on the charges on a date to be determined by the Court. The charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine carries a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison. The charge of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison. The charges also carry potential financial penalties. The case is being investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force and Germany’s Zentrale Kriminalinspektion (ZKI) Oldenburg Cybercrime Unit.