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Californian Man Faces Possible Life Imprisonment for Illegal Crypto Exchange 

Kunal Kalra, a 25-year-old man from Los Angeles, California, has pleaded guilty to pushing drugs online and running a cryptocurrency money laundering scheme. 

According to an announcement from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Kalra, who also went by the names “Kumar,” “shecklemayne” and “coinman,” has been charged in relation to his money-laundering operation and selling methamphetamines. He already pleaded guilty, and his procession is already ongoing. 

Authorities believe that between 2015 and 2017, Kalra conducted exchanges from Bitcoin to U.S. dollars, ran a Bitcoin Automated Teller Machine (ATM) and made deals with several drug dealers and criminals as well. Per the report, his cryptocurrency exchanges amounted to $25 million, and he continued to operate without getting a license or filing as an anti-money laundering program.

His crypto exchange operation as done majorly on the behalves of his criminal clients, most of whom got their cryptocurrencies as payments for the drugs they pushed on the Dark Web. The Justice Department added that by not implementing an anti-money laundering program, he proved that he conducted these exchanges and transactions for his clients, with full knowledge of the asset source. At the very least, he seemed to have been complicit in their crimes, and he helped them evade authorities as well.

As part of their investigation, authorities found about $889,000 in cash, as well as 54.3 BTC and other amounts of cryptocurrencies as well. The total worth of crypto assets found in his possession was reported to have amounted to an extra $500,000 at least. 

According to a separate report from news medium U.S. News, Kalra was said to have sold two pounds of meth to an undercover law enforcement agent. Most likely, he was picked up from there. Per the Justice Department’s filing, Kalra should be arraigned before a court next month, where he faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison if he is found guilty. U.S. News also reported that he faces separate money laundering charges in the state of Texas, all of which were filed against him earlier this month. 

The news of Kalra’s sentencing is just the second drug-related cryptocurrency case being reported in mainstream media over the past week alone. Last week, the Department of Justice announced the sentencing of Sky Justin Gornik, a 39-year-old native of San Diego, California, who pleaded guilty to running an online drug outfit ad laundering money with cryptocurrencies. 

In its announcement, the DOJ reported that between 2014 and June 2017, Gornik was a frequent visitor to Dark Web platforms such as AlphaBay, Trade Route, Abraxas, and more, where he trafficked in several drugs. He pushed the deadly fentanyl, carfentanil, and other drugs to customers across several countries. 

The proceeds of Gornik’s operation were usually gotten in Bitcoin and Monero, and the DOJ noted that he went on to sell is assets to anyone who wanted to buy cryptocurrency on exchanges (particularly, Bittrex and Poloniex). Gornik’s investigation was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspectors in San Diego, as well as Homeland Security Investigators. Ina raid of his home, authorities found up to 1.7 grams of carfentanil, as well as fentanyl gelatin tablet sheets. Gornik was eventually made to surrender al the cryptocurrencies in his possession, in addition to a 70-month jail term that he will serve.

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