A father and son from Monroe were sentenced to federal prison on Tuesday on drug and money laundering charges.
Kenneth John Rhule, 47, and Kenneth Warren Rhule, 28, were both sentenced to five years in prison for their operation of an illegal marijuana business, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a press release. The younger Rhule was also engaged in unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange activity.
The duo manufactured and distributed marijuana products out of a facility in Monroe, selling products to consumers across the country for cash or cryptocurrency. The operation did not have a license and did not pay taxes to the state.
According to the Justice Department, the pair made over $13 million in sales, netting a profit of $2.5 million.
“Not only did this pair produce and distribute marijuana products on the dark web, in violation of the state’s regulatory scheme, they also illegally laundered immense amounts of bitcoin that their enterprise earned,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said in the release.
The Rhules caught the attention of law enforcement in 2018, when Kenneth W. Rhule was investigated for an “unlicensed bitcoin exchange business.”
On numerous occasions, Kenneth W. Rhule met with an undercover agent who posed as a criminal looking to launder funds. The agent made it seem the money had ties to human trafficking activities, but Rhule still agreed to exchange bitcoin for cash, the Justice Department said. Rhule traded $142,000 worth of bitcoin for cash with the agent and offered advice on obscuring the source of the funds.
Brown added that over a dozen firearms were discovered at the Monroe facility, with some being loaded and “ready to be used to protect their drug trade.”
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