Earlier today, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Mustafa Goklu, also known as “Mustangy,” of laundering and operating an unauthorized money transfer business as part of a scheme to launder purportedly the proceeds of bitcoin drug trafficking. The verdict follows a four-day trial by U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen. After being sentenced, Goklu faces up to 25 years in prison.
The verdict was announced by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Pease.
“The defendant enabled his clients to launder their criminal proceeds, remain anonymous and conceal where their bitcoins came from, so they could continue to engage in drug trafficking and other criminal activities while avoiding detection by law enforcement,” the U.S. Attorney for Peace said. “According to today’s verdict, Goklu’s illicit business of converting funds from one form to another without the required license has been shut down and the defendant has been convicted of the crime.”
gentlemen. Peace would like to thank the DEA New York branch for their excellent investigation into the case.
As evidenced by the trial, in July 2018, DEA agents discovered an ad posted on localbitcoins.com in which an individual with the username “Mustangy” offered to purchase Bitcoin (“BTC”) worth up to $99,999, This digital currency is also known as cryptocurrency and is converted into US dollars for a fee. Law enforcement officials later identified Goklu as an individual using the username Mustangy. On July 11, 2018, a DEA agent (“UC”) acting undercover began exchanging encrypted text messages with Goklu to arrange to exchange BTC for USD in person. UC and the defendants then met over a nine-month period and made seven transactions or attempted to exchange BTC for cash, culminating in Goklu’s arrest in April 2019. UC has repeatedly stated to the defendant that the source of the BTC was that the defendant exchanged drug trafficking and that he sold oxycodone, Adderall and marijuana as part of UC’s business. The transactions occurred inside the defendant’s parked Mercedes-Benz, a coffee shop in Sunnyside, Queens, and locations in Manhattan. The amount of each transaction ranged from approximately $5,000 to $50,000, for a total of $133,000. In each transaction, UC transferred the BTC to Goklu’s cryptocurrency wallet, after which the defendants kept a 7% or 8% commission and provided UC with the remaining cash. Evidence introduced at the trial also indicated that the defendants engaged in similar illicit bitcoin transactions with multiple other individuals.
July 2022, Mr. Peace was elected to chair the White Collar Fraud Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Advisory Council (AGAC). As head of the subcommittee, Mr. Peace will play a key role in advising AGAC to facilitate the prevention, investigation and prosecution of a variety of economically motivated nonviolent crimes, including mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, healthcare fraud, tax fraud, securities and commodities fraud, and identity theft.
Government cases are handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gillian Kassner and Marietou E. Diouf are in charge of the prosecution, assisted by Paralegal Specialist Bridget Donovan.
EDNY Docket No. 19-CR-386 (PKC)