The US Department of Justice announced today that Tal Prihar, who ran DeepDotWeb, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to the DOJ's charges, Prihar used the news site DeepDotWeb to run ads directing readers to various darknet marketplaces. They say Prihar made approximately 8,155 Bitcoin on kickbacks for such ads, based on customers who clicked through to the marketplaces. Prihar then laundered those proceeds through a nexus of crypto wallets and shell companies, according to the DOJ.
Prihar was arrested in 2019. He now faces up to 20 years, with sentencing scheduled for August 2. Prihar has also agreed to return $8,414,173, which is based on the value of his earned BTC over the course of DeepDotWeb's 6 years of operation before the FBI seized the site in 2019.
The DOJ did not say how much of the 8,155 Bitcoin Prihar has left. At current prices, the total amount would be worth nearly half a billion dollars.
Faced with a justice system that is getting better at tracking transactions, some darknet marketplaces and operators are abandoning more transparent blockchains in favor of privacy coins.