Thomas Mario Costanzo, a.k.a. “Morpheus Titania”, was arrested on April 20 during a multi-agency federal task force raid on his apartment in Mesa, Arizona, the United States, for possessing ammunition illegally. Possessing ammunition is legal in the state of Arizona, however, since the suspect was previously convicted for the possession of marijuana in 2015, Costanzo is prohibited from owning any kind of arms, including bullets. However, the case is more complex.
The task force, led by Homeland Security Investigations, searched the apartment of the defendant after U.S. Magistrate Judge David Duncan signed a warrant on seeking evidence that Costanzo may have operated an “unlicensed money transmitting business”, engaged in illegal drug sales, and tried to hide the profits from the alleged illicit operation. Law enforcement authorities were authorized to seize illegal drugs, bitcoin records, financial documents, computers, cellphones, and other related items. A separate search warrant asked Costanzo’s mobile provider to produce tracking information about his prior whereabouts. The warrant records were obtained and published on April 25 by Freedom’s Phoenix, an offbeat news-and-conspiracy website run by local Libertarian activist Ernest Hancock, who was present at the defendant’s trial. The suspect currently works for Freedom’s Phoenix as sales and marketing manager and has been Hancock’s friend since they met in 2003, Hancock said in a podcast on April 28.
According to the court documents, the defendant was charged only with the possession of three boxes of Winchester ammunition, for a total of 60 cartridges “in different calibers.” Costanzo denied they were his, however, he admitted they were in his apartment, federal records stated. The defendant’s detention hearing was scheduled for April 27, when the court decided that Costanzo should remain in federal custody after a prosecutor argued that the man might flee court proceedings if he would be set free. At the defendant’s court trial, the prosecution argued that Costanzo had a long list of “non-compliance” with government requirements, said Hancock. The suspect’s friend added that noted Libertarian activist and bitcoin advocate Adam Kokesh attended Costanzo’s hearing.
During the raid at 417 North Loma Vista Circle in Mesa, heavily armed SWAT team members, agents from the task force, and even an armored vehicle were present. When asked, the landlord of the apartment told law enforcement authorities that Costanzo has lived there by himself for about a year.
In various online articles, Costanzo claimed that he is one of the biggest sellers of the cryptocurrency bitcoin in the area. Online records showed that the defendant had made more than 100 trades in the past four years.
“Awesome to work with!” one of his customers wrote in a review.
“Because of his rock-solid reputation, he is one of the biggest sellers in the Phoenix area,” Costanzo wrote about himself in 2014 on one of his websites, Titanians.org. “Morpheus is now semi-retired as a bitcoin trader / entrepreneur.”
Titanians.org was a place for writers including “visionary” physicist Bob Podolsky. The website features anarchist essays, 9/11 conspiracy rants, advice on business and ethics, and plenty of information about cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin.
Since Arizona’s stiff felony cannabis possession law, Costanzo was charged with a trio of offenses between April and December 2014. Without a medical-marijuana card, possession of any amount of marijuana is a felony in the state, however, prosecutors usually take such offense as a misdemeanor or offer drug treatment to the suspects instead of prosecuting them. However, the defendant has had numerous prior arrests in the recent years and was convicted, which he served eight months in prison for in the mid-1980s for fleeing from law enforcement authorities. Because of these, the prosecution did not offer any deal for Costanzo. Following guilty pleas in 2015, the suspect was sentenced to probation after being convicted of misdemeanors in two of the marijuana cases and of a felony in a third, court documents stated.
Homeland Security spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe told the media that the investigation is “open and active”, meaning it’s possible that additional charges could be forthcoming for the defendant.