A former University at Buffalo student from the Queens pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara Friday to conspiracy to purchase controlled substances, distribution of controlled substances and money laundering conspiracy.
Kevin Szura, 20, is the second ex-UB student to plead guilty recently to charges connected to a ring that sold mollies and Xanax, then schemed to use bitcoins to by more drugs for street sale.
U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. said Szura faces a prison term of up to 20 year and a fine of up to $1 million when he is sentenced Feb. 3.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wei Xiang said Szura conspired with former UB student Zhe Wang, also 20 and from the Queens, and others.
Xiang said proceeds from the drug sales were used to buy $74,000 in bitcoins that in turn were used to purchase more drugs for local street sales. The value of bitcoins – a digital currency unregulated by central banks or governments – is known to fluctuate wildly; yet, bitcoins have become increasingly acceptable in many marketplaces worldwide, Xiang added.
Between March 2015 and last March, Szura and Wang were both UB undergraduates.
In March, agents of the Homeland Security investigations unit and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service intercepted two packages, each containing about 3,000 Xanax bars that were mailed from Canada and addressed to an Amherst suspect linked to the drug ring.
Neither Hochul nor Xiang would comment about other suspects in the ring.
Wang faces a similar sentence as Szura when he is sentenced in several months, according to court officials.