U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell sentenced Anthony Blane Byrnes, 19, of Huntersville, N.C., to 71 months in prison on drug charges for selling drugs he obtained on the dark web using cryptocurrency, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, Andrew Murray reported. Byrnes was also forced to complete four years of supervised release, in addition to a prison sentence.
Byrnes conspired with a regional drug trafficking organization (DTO) to sell drugs on the Dark Web according to the Criminal Details to which Byrnes pleaded guilty, other records submitted in this case and comments made in court. In August 2019, a shipment of Slovenian mail sent to Byrnes was intercepted by law enforcement, containing illegal drugs. On or about 7 August 2019, at Byrnes's Huntersville, NC home, the law enforcement performed a controlled delivery of this package.
Byrnes was observed by law enforcement to pick up the parcel and reach his home. The law enforcement then conducted a residence search warrant and confiscated various drugs and contraband including LSD, Psilocin, DMT, MDMA / Ecstasy, among other drugs and paraphernalia. Law enforcement also had two weapons seized from the home. Judicial records indicate that Byrnes had a prior violation in April 2019, where additional drugs and a weapon were confiscated by law enforcement. Over the course of the investigation three weapons and about $13,800 (USD) were seized from Byrnes' home.
Byrnes bought narcotics on the Dark Net Marketplace (DNM) "Empire Market," according to court records. Byrnes paid for the drugs using Bitcoin cryptocurrency, kept in VC wallets and used Bitcoin ATM machines in the greater Charlotte region to facilitate drug purchases, turn drug proceeds into virtual currency (VC), and arrange drug shipments for the DTO.