A man named Hugo Sergio Mejia, who is a resident of California has been awarded three years federal imprisonment in the US as the authorities found him exchanging Bitcoins without obtaining any license of doing Bitcoin business. The person’s exchange services were allegedly availed by the drug mafia as well. He has been accused of exchanging Bitcoins worth more than US$ 13 Million while conducting his illegal and non-licensed business.
Hugo Sergio Mejia is a 50-year-old man living in the County of San Bernardino, California, and was facing trial in the US.
As per the official statement of the Department of Justice, USA (DOJ), Mejia had been sentenced to serve three years in federal imprisonment. The allegations against him were that he was running a Bitcoin exchange business of which he hadn’t obtained any license. From his unlicensed and illegal Bitcoin exchange business, he transacted Bitcoin funds amounting to more than US$ 13 Million. Some of the transactions he did were based on cash transactions as well. However, the primary source of his business was exchanging Bitcoin, claimed DOJ.
Another allegation against Mejia was that apart from operating a non-licensed business, the accused was working with drug lords. DOJ stated that he had connections with the drug mafia and transacted Bitcoins for them as well. He knew that he was assisting drug traffickers yet he rendered his crypto exchange services to them intentionally, claimed DOJ.
Mejia was brought to face trial initially on 1st July 2021 on the specific allegation of operating a non-licensed exchange business. Before proceeding with the trial, he apprised the Court that he wanted to plead “guilty”. He admitted without refuting that he was operating a non-licensed business. In addition, he admitted that his activities also involved money laundering as well.
During the course of case proceedings, the prosecution told the Court that Mejia was carrying out an illegal business of exchanging Bitcoin. It was apprised to the court that he started the Bitcoin conversion business three years ago in 2018. He kept the business going till September 2020, when his illegal business was identified by the Finance Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
According to FinCEN, Mejia kept on registering new and fake companies for ensuring that FinCEN does not find about his true business. Companies namely HODL Group, Worldwide Secure Communications, and World Secure Data are the three fake companies belonging to Meija, said DOJ.
It was further told by DOJ that somewhere between 2009 till 2020, Meija had contact within the law enforcement agencies of the US. He along with his contact in the agencies were helping out each other in converting Bitcoins into cash for drug lords.
The admission of both charges was enough for the trial court to come to a conclusion. The Court finally concluded that the accused should spend the next three years of his life in federal imprisonment. At the time of awarding sentence, the Court also directed to seize assets belonging to Meija for which the accused agreed.