A United States national who is also the son in law of an ex-African dictator, was found guilty for his role in an international currency operation headquartered in the Republic of Uganda.
The sentencing is scheduled for this summer and the American is currently facing 45 years behind bars, a fine of $1 million or both.
Son of Missionaries Guilty for an International Criminal Operation
31-year-old Ryan Andrew Gustafson is an American citizen, son of missionaries and married to the granddaughter of Idi Amin, dictator of Uganda from 1971 to 1979.
Gustafson is also known to law enforcement by several other aliases such as WillyClock and Jack Farrel.
The initial counterfeit currency operation began in Uganda, where Gustafson manufactured and distributed false Federal Reserve Notes.
For the purpose of advertising and selling the fake bills, the defendant created a website on the dark web that he named Community-X.
This site was established solely for the purposes of trading the counterfeit bills Gustafson created.
By December 2013, the forged bills had hit American soil where they became distributed around the area of Pittsburgh.
Soon after, the fake bills then spread to other cities around the country. Many businesses and retail stores unknowingly traded the counterfeit currency.
Other participants besides Gustafson took a part in this operation, aiding in the manufacturing and distribution process.
The manufactures produced counterfeit bills of $20, $50 and $100. The delivery of the fake currency was packaged in camouflaged pamphlets carrying the message “Give a Child Hope Today”.
Concealed behind a strong message, the packages containing forged bills were shipped to the addresses of the individuals who ordered them.
The accomplices in the operation connected with buyers via Gustafson’s Community-X forum.
In total, almost $2 million worth of fake notes were seized.
Roughly $1.8 million of this counterfeit currency was seized by the police in Uganda with the remaining $270,000 worth of forged bills seized in the United States.
Gustafson and his associates passed the false Federal Reserve Notes in exchange for legal currency in Uganda, the United States and other several other countries.
The Uncovering of the Operation
Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette reported that this several-year-long operation was brought to light when a coffee was purchased in a local café with a counterfeit $100 bill, ultimately leading to the uncovering of the operation.
On March 22, 2019, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced that Gustafson had pleaded guilty in federal court on March 21, 2019.
The charges included manufacturing/passing/transferring/selling counterfeit currency, committing counterfeiting acts outside the U.S. and conspiracy to launder money.
Gustafson pleaded guilty to all of the three counts before Chief U.S. District Judge, Mark Hornak.
Following the guidelines of federal sentencing, the actual sentence that will be appointed to the defendant will be based upon his previous criminal history and the seriousness of the crime.
The maximum sentence is 45 years behind bars, a $1 million fine, or potentially both. The sentencing is scheduled for July 23, 2019, by Judge Hornak.
The Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the United States Secret Service and the U.S Customs and Border Protection conducted the investigation that resulted in Gustafson’s arrest.
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