Serbian pleads guilty to running ‘Monopoly’ darknet marketplace

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A Serbian man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to operating a drug trafficking platform called Monopoly Market on the darknet.

Milomir Desnica, 33, allegedly launched and operated Monopoly beginning in late 2019, using the platform to facilitate the sale of various drugs including opioids, stimulants, psychedelics, and prescription medications.

He made approximately $18 million in narcotics sales worldwide, including the sale of over 30 kilograms of methamphetamine to customers in the U.S., according to a statement released by the Department of Justice on Wednesday. Desnica is being tried in the District of Columbia, where his sentencing is scheduled for February.

He could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and financial penalties.

In 2021, German and Finnish law enforcement seized the computer server hosting Monopoly and took it offline.

The takedown was one of the largest law enforcement actions taken against a darknet marketplace, and the resulting arrests of 288 vendors overshadowed the 150 made following the takedown of DarkMarket in 2021 and 179 following the takedown of Wall Street Market in 2019.

Law enforcement also seized more than $53.4 million in cash and virtual currencies, as well as 850 kilograms of drugs.

Desnica was arrested in Austria last November and was extradited to the U.S. to face drug trafficking charges last June.

Desnica allegedly used at least two cryptocurrency exchange services to launder his illicit proceeds. He then sold the cryptocurrency to Serbia-based peer-to-peer traders in exchange for fiat currency in an effort to “clean” his earnings, prosecutors said in a statement in June.

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Daryna Antoniuk
is a freelance reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.

 

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