Wall Street Market “Kingpin” Sentenced to 8 Years
A 25-year-old US man was ordered to pay $2.3 million in Bitcoin proceeds late last week and sentenced to eight years in prison for his principal role in the EastSideHigh darknet market vendor operation. Binh Thanh Le, of Brockton, Massachusetts, opened for business under the vendor name on Wall Street Market in 2018, when he was only 22 years old.
Le, described by local media as a darknet “kingpin,” managed to raise 59 BTC during his brief career on Wall Street Market with the help of two associates, selling Ecstasy, Xanax, and ketamine in bulk quantities. He was indicted in June 2019 for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute narcotics.
Federal agents managed to track Le down through a series of fictitious business names he used for drug transportation purposes, with the help of local postal inspectors. Agents also intercepted packages being delivered to the fake business addresses from international importers, arriving from Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
The intercepted packages shared a common trait of being labeled as “Lego box(es) for kids.” While the packages did contain actual boxes for Lego toys, the toys had been removed and replaced with vacuum-sealed bags containing drugs to be repackaged and sold on Wall Street Market.
EastSideHigh’s disappearance from Wall Street Market and the Dread forum – two places where the vendor maintained consistent communication with their customers – coincided with Le’s arrest, which occurred on Mar 27th, 2019. On that day, Le unwittingly met with undercover officers in a Massachusetts hotel to perform a Bitcoin-for-cash exchange of $150,000.
Binh Thanh Le, next to two co-conspirators, headed to a hearing after their 2019 arrest. Source: The Patriot Ledger
“I imagine this kind of situation is so tempting for vendors,” wrote Dread user TurboSnail in reference to the BTC-for-cash setup, in a post dated almost two years ago, shortly after news broke of Le’s arrest. “Many have the contacts and knowledge to sell product, but then fall short when it comes to turning all that crypto into real world cash,” they added. “Then along comes MrFriendlyMoneyLaunderer who offers irl cash in exchange for a quiet chat at a local hotel lol.”
A co-conspirator believed to be part of the vendor operation was also arrested at the hotel where Le met with the undercover officers. In addition, an alleged third member was arrested at a storage facility associated with the operation, where law enforcement confiscated 6,200 grams of MDMA, 5,000 grams of ketamine, and more than 10,000 generic Xanax pills. The two co-conspirators have pleaded not guilty to related charges.