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Sunnyside man sentenced for laundering Bitcoin proceeds from drug trafficking: Feds

Sunnyside resident Mustafa Goklu was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for laundering Bitcoin proceeds from illicit drug trafficking. Courtesy of EDNY/Getty

Mar. 20, 2024 By Bill Parry

A Sunnyside man was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court last week to 16 months in prison for laundering Bitcoin and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business, as part of a scheme to help customers launder proceeds from drug trafficking.

Mustafa Goklu, 50, was convicted of those charges by a federal jury in October 2022.

“Drug trafficking would be less pervasive and lucrative if money launderers like the defendant did not enable washing the illegal proceeds of the deadly trade,” said Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement.

Goklu, who is also known as “Mustangy” was busted by federal agents in April 2019 about a year after undercover DEA agents began tracking him after he posted an online ad that he could offer as much as $99,999 in cash for Bitcoin, for a fee.

“In this case, Goklu used an online peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange to advertise his cryptocurrency for cash exchange services,” Peace said. “Facilitating the ability of drug traffickers to distribute narcotics in the United States is fully deserving of a prison sentence.”

On July 11, 2018, a DEA special agent acting in an undercover capacity began exchanging text messages with Guklu to arrange in-person exchanges of Bitcoin to U.S. currency.

They met and engaged in seven transactions or attempted exchanges of Bitcoin to cash over a nine-month period. The exchanges took place in his Mercedes-Benz outside an unnamed coffee shop in Sunnyside.

According to court documents, the agent told Goklu that the source of the Bitcoin came from narcotics trafficking and that part of that business involved the sale of oxycodone, Adderall, and marijuana.

The transactions ranged from $5,000 to $50,000 for a total of $133,000. With each transaction, the agent would transfer Bitcoin to Goklu’s cryptocurrency wallet—less a 7 to 8% commission fee—and Goklu would provide cash.

The evidence introduced at trial also showed that Goklu was engaged in similar illicit Bitcoin exchanges with multiple other individuals throughout the investigation.

“Technology may change the manner in which money laundering takes place; but not the motive,” DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Frank Tarentino said. Money launderer’s true nature is to conceal criminality and this sentence shines a light on Mustafa Goklu’s conviction. DEA is focused on bringing drug traffickers and those who support the distribution of poison through money laundering to justice.”

On March 14, U.S. District Court Judge Pamela K. Chen sentenced Goklu to 16 months in federal prison.

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