Drug Enforcement Administration

Atlanta

Robert J. Murphy, Jr., Special Agent in Charge

March 19, 2020

Contact: Chuvalo Truesdell

Phone Number: (571) 362-3517

Huntervsville, N.C. man faces federal “dark net” drug charges

Defendant Allegedly Bought Drugs on Dark Web Using Virtual Currency

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – 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.

According to allegations contained in the indictment and a previously-filed criminal complaint, in August 2019, law enforcement intercepted a mail parcel containing suspected narcotics. The parcel was allegedly mailed from Slovenia and addressed to Byrnes.  On or about August 7, 2019, law enforcement conducted a controlled delivery of the suspected parcel at Byrnes’ residence. As alleged in court documents, law enforcement observed Byrnes picking up the parcel and retreating to his residence.  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.

According to allegations contained in court documents, Byrnes bought the narcotics via the Dark Net Marketplace (DNM) “Empire Market,” and used Bitcoin to pay for the drugs. Court documents further allege that Byrnes used multiple Bitcoin ATM machines in Charlotte to make numerous drug transactions.

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. The charges in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.  

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for leading the investigation, and thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S.Customs and Border Protection,  and the Huntersville Police Department for their invaluable assistance.  

Assistant United States Attorney Sanjeev Bhasker, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, is prosecuting the case. 

The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justhinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov. Also follow DEA Atlanta via Twitter at @DEAATLANTADiv.

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