LARGO — The U.S. Attorney General's Office has announced a plea deal with a Largo man accused of trafficking large amounts of MDMA, also known as ecstasy, through the now-shuttered Silk Road website.
Angel William Quinones, 34, agreed on Friday to plead guilty to conspiring to import at least 9,193 grams — which is more than 20 pounds — of MDMA into Florida between January 2011 and October 2013. Authorities believe Quinones, who operated under the user names UnderGroundSyndicate and BTCmaster, was one of the largest redistributors of illegal drugs through Silk Road in the United States.
The agreement follows other prominent arrests connected with Silk Road, a sophisticated worldwide network that conducted transactions through bitcoins, a controversial digital currency not backed by any country or central bank.
In October, Ross Ulbricht was charged with conducting an ongoing criminal enterprise. Authorities have accused Ulbricht of founding Silk Road, where he operated under the user name Dread Pirate Roberts and allegedly planned a murder-for-hire scheme against a federal agent and a drug dealer who had threatened to reveal names of Silk Road users.
In November, federal authorities charged Olivia Bolles, a 32-year-old Delaware physician, with the illegal distribution of controlled substances through Silk Road, which has been called the illicit equivalent of Amazon for its efficiency.
Quinones appears to have lived in Pinellas County for more than a decade and to have no criminal record in Florida. He was investigated by several federal agencies.
On Oct. 2, 2013, federal agents raided his home at 1021 Breeze Drive. They seized three computers, four cellphones, two Nissan automobiles, a rifle, three pistols, ammunition, thumb drives and more than $157,000 in cash.
Quinones faces up to 20 years in prison. His sentence could be reduced if he provides "substantial assistance" to investigators.
The announcement of his plea deal comes days after Cornelis Jan Slomp, 23, a Dutch national and Quinones' trading partner on Silk Road, reached an agreement with federal authorities in Chicago.
Slomp was the largest distributor of controlled substances on Silk Road, according to records found on the server, authorities say. Slomp had been shipping MDMA to several Post Office boxes in the Tampa Bay area. Quinones received the merchandise on credit, sold it to customers across the United States and split the proceeds with Slomp.
Researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.