A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte has returned an indictment against Anthony Blane Byrnes, 19, of Huntersville, N.C., charging him with drug conspiracy and related drug charges for trafficking narcotics he purchased on the dark web, with coordination through Bitcoin ATMs, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
In August 2019, law enforcement intercepted a mail package containing illegal drugs, according to charges found in the indictment and a criminal complaint filed previously. Allegedly the package was shipped from Slovenia and sent to Byrnes.Law enforcement carried out a controlled distribution of the suspicious package at Byrnes ' residence on or around August 7, 2019. As claimed in court records, Byrnes was witnessed by law enforcement to pick up the package and head back to his house.
Subsequently, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Byrnes’ residence and seized numerous narcotics and contraband, including LSD, MDMA/Ecstasy, marijuana, other narcotics and drug paraphernalia. Law enforcement also recovered two firearms from his residence. The indictment also alleges a previous infraction in April 2019, wherein law enforcement recovered additional narcotics and a firearm. In total, three firearms and approximately $13,800 in cash were recovered from Byrnes’ residence in this investigation.
Byrnes purchased the narcotics through the Dark Net Marketplace (DNM), "Empire Market," and used Bitcoin to pay for the drugs, according to charges found in court records. Court paperwork also suggest that Byrnes made several drug purchases using several Bitcoin ATM machines in Charlotte.
Byrnes is currently in federal custody. He is charged with drug trafficking conspiracy, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison; possession with intent to distribute LSD, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison; possession with intent to distribute Psilocin, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years; possession with intent to distribute DMT, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years; possession with intent to distribute marijuana, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years; and two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, which carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years to life, to be served consecutive to other imposed charges, per count.