Worthless Zimbabwe dollars a treasure for prolific US dark web dealer


Worthless Zimbabwe dollar notes whose biggest denomination was Z$100 trillion before the local currency was phased out in 2009 were a treasure for a United States dark web dealer who pleaded guilty to money laundering and distributing powerful opioids over the “dark web”.

Richard Castro of Windermere, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute three controlled substances – carfentanil, phenyl fentanyl, and fentanyl, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The drugs are said to be more powerful than heroin.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

He will be sentenced on 25 October.

Castro laundered his narcotics proceeds in several ways, including by funneling millions of dollars through his Bitcoin wallets and by buying approximately 100 quadrillion Zimbabwe bank notes, among other valuables.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, he agreed to forfeit US$4 156 198.18, including the funds or currency in seven different Bitcoin wallet addresses.

It is not clear what Castro wanted to use the Zimbabwe dollars for but they can be auctioned to collectors of souvenirs.

Z$100 trillion dollar notes are selling Ebay for anything up to US$820 depending on the packaging.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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