US Fugitive Involved In Crypto Scheme To Aid North Korea Arrested In Spain, Faces 20-Year Term

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Spanish authorities have detained Alejandro Cao de Benos, a Spanish aristocrat, over allegations that he ran a crypto scheme and recruited Ethereum (ETH) researcher Virgil Griffith to help North Korea evade international sanctions

According to Reuters, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) had previously accused de Benos, founder of a pro-Pyongyang affinity organization, of engaging in illegal activities related to crypto and blockchain technology services for North Korea.

Key Figure In North Korea Crypto Scheme Sentenced To Prison

As reported by Bitcoinist, in 2022, Virgil Griffith was sentenced by a US court to five years and three months in prison for his involvement in conspiring to aid North Korea in evading US sanctions using crypto. It is alleged that de Benos played a pivotal role in recruiting Griffith for these activities.

Responding to the US accusations, de Benos took to the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to describe the allegations against him as false. 

de Benos stated that upon his arrival at the AVE station in Puerta de Atocha, Madrid, on Thursday, November 30, 2023, he was approached by national police officers from Pasiano who arrested him based on an FBI arrest warrant issued through Interpol. 

De Benos firmly denied any involvement in hiring or requesting the services of the crypto researcher Virgil Griffith and maintained that there was no evidence to support such claims.

According to Spanish national police, they received information indicating that de Benos was in Barcelona under a false identity and planning to travel to Madrid by train. 

Extradition Process Initiated 

On Friday, de Benos appeared before a Supreme Court judge who released him without conditions pending the extradition process, a judicial source confirmed to Reuters. 

The source further explained that the United States must formalize the extradition request and provide the necessary documentation for the process to proceed. de Benos further stated on the matter: 

There is no extradition. The US accusation, besides being false, does not exist in Spain. 

The identities of de Benos’ legal representatives are yet to be identified. If convicted, de Benos could face up to 20 years in prison. However, the extradition process and subsequent legal proceedings must occur before any final determination is made.

The 1-day chart shows the total crypto market cap’s sustained uptrend. Source: TOTAL on

The global cryptocurrency market has reached a significant milestone, with its market capitalization surpassing $1.5 trillion. According to data from CoinGecko, this represents a 2.63% change in the last 24 hours and a substantial 78.18% change compared to the market cap one year ago.

Bitcoin (BTC), the pioneering cryptocurrency, continues to play a dominant role in the market. Today, Bitcoin’s market cap stands at an impressive $814 billion, accounting for 51.01% of the total cryptocurrency market. 

Featured image from Shutterstock, chart from 

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