Las Vegas Suspects Among 150 Nabbed in Cocaine Case, $31.6M Seized Globally

Posted on: October 26, 2021, 06:27h. 

Last updated on: October 27, 2021, 02:38h.

Four suspects were arrested in Las Vegas as authorities rounded up 150 alleged criminals in an international drug trafficking and money laundering operation. It involved the dark web and illicit activities in several nations.

US Justice Department Lisa Monaco
US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, pictured above. She announced massive drug arrests this week. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

The US Justice Department revealed the arrests on Tuesday, with 65 of the suspects being in America. Also, agents seized more than $31.6 million in cash and cryptocurrency worldwide, according to KSNV, a Nevada TV station.

The four Las Vegas suspects were identified as Paul Engstrom, Vincent Cuomo, Abraham Elliott, and Joseph Krieger.

They were allegedly distributing cocaine through the dark web. Each of the four was indicted by a federal grand jury in July.

Numerous Charges Filed

The charges against the four include distribution, conspiracy to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute of a controlled substance, money laundering conspiracy, and aiding and abetting, KSNV said, citing federal sources.

Engstrom, Cuomo, and Elliott allegedly received and packaged suspected cocaine in stash houses in the Las Vegas Valley. Krieger additionally allegedly mailed envelopes in connection with the operation.

Some 44 envelopes were seized by the feds. In each envelope was a substance that tested positive for cocaine, prosecutors said. More than 5 kilograms of suspected cocaine was seized.

Engstrom also allegedly exchanged cryptocurrency for cash using proceeds from the operation, authorities claim.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was among the federal agencies taking part in the inquiry.

Nevada Stash Houses Searched

DEA agents raided two Las Vegas Valley stash houses in June. They seized some 6,800 grams of suspected cocaine.

The 150 suspects include alleged darknet drug traffickers and others who allegedly took part in the sales of illegal goods and services in Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the US, according to a Justice Department statement.

In total, authorities seized about 234 kg. of suspected drugs worldwide. These include 152.1 kg of suspected amphetamine, 21.6 kg of suspected cocaine, 26.9 kg of suspected opioids, and 32.5 kg of suspected MDMA.

Also seized were more than 200,000 ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methamphetamine pills, as well as alleged counterfeit medicine.

Authorities also took into their possession some 45 firearms. The federal inquiry was named Operation Dark HunTor.

This 10-month massive international law enforcement operation spanned across three continents and involved dozens of US and international law enforcement agencies to send one clear message to those hiding on the dark net peddling illegal drugs: there is no dark internet…,” US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in the Justice Department statement.

No word yet if any Las Vegas gaming properties were somehow involved in the case.  Last October, federal agents apprehended two California brothers at Las Vegas’ Red Rock Resort’s parking garage. They allegedly attempted to sell 100 pounds of meth for $300,000, KLAS, a local TV station, reported.