Drug kingpin tied to Columbus agrees to surrender millions in crypto

An international drug kingpin given the same designation as the infamous “El Chapo” admitted in federal court Friday morning in Columbus his alleged crimes and agreed to surrender the most cryptocurrency ever seized by U.S. law enforcement. 

Banmeet Singh, 40, will forfeit as part of a plea agreement accounts valued at more than $327 million as of 1 p.m. Thursday. The price of cryptocurrencies fluctuates frequently throughout each day.

Singh admitted in court Friday to running an international drug ring from his UK home that distributed heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, ecstasy, LSD, ketamine, Xanax and other drugs to at least eight places in the United States, including Columbus. The ring operated from at least 2012 through 2017.

Kenneth Parker, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said Friday the cryptocurrency was valued at $150 million when it was seized, believed to be the largest cryptocurrency financial seizure in DEA history.

The U.S. Attorney General designated Singh a priority target for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force in 2019. The DEA had also designated Singh as a consolidated priority organization target, or CPOT, which Special Agent in Charge Orville Greene said is the designation for “leaders of the most prolific drug laundering that have the most impact on drug trafficking.” The CPOT title has been given to other notorious drug traffickers like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.