US resident faces up to 25 years in prison for exchanging bitcoin without a license and money laundering

The California resident agreed to plead guilty to money laundering and the provision of virtual currency exchange services without a license from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), 

according to the US Department of Justice.Hugo Sergio Mejia, 49, is accused of organizing an unregistered bitcoin-to-fiat currency exchange business that operated from May 2018 to September 2020. During this time, he traded at least $ 13 million in cryptocurrency assets, including for an international drug cartel. According to the prosecution, he knew exactly who he was providing the services to and registered three fictitious companies to conceal the true scale of his operations.“Mejia promoted his business online and attracted customers through referrals. He contacted his customers through the encrypted messaging service and met in person in coffee shops, ”the publication says. Law enforcement officers became interested in his activity after he “conducted five transactions to exchange bitcoin for cash with a total amount of over $ 250,000.” Mejia’s clients cooperated with the investigation, as a result of which he was detained.The Ministry of Justice does not specify what income he could get from this activity. He was seized with $ 234,000 in cash, silver coins and bars, as well as about $ 96,000 in cryptocurrency. The investigation was led by the Internal Revenue Service Investigation Division and the Department of Homeland Security Investigation Division. Under the sane articles, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

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