According to a U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) release published on 26th June, agents acting under the purview of the DOJ have arrested over 35 criminals by posing as crypto traders on the darknet. Officials also have seized over $23.6 million in criminals gain.
In the operation; Bitcoin mining devices, around 2000 Bitcoins (BTC), other cryptocurrencies, drugs, and fiat and gold bars were seized. The estimated costs of other cryptocurrencies were around $20 million while the fiat and gold bars were worth $3.6 million. Drugs which were seized were opioids, LSD, MDA, Xanax, and others.
According to the DOJ release special agents of New York HIS division and Southern NYC District United States Attorney’s Office participated in the yearlong undercover operation. The operation involved posing as cryptocurrency traders which intended launderers a fiat for cryptocurrency on the darknet.
During the investigation, 90 active cases were carried out collaboratively by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HIS), the Postal Inspection Service, the Secret Service, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The acting executive associate director of HIS, Derek Benner said in the release that darknet is ever-changing and more intricate which makes locating and targeting the criminals who are selling illicit items on the platform more complicated. But the operation once again has proven that each criminal is within the reach of the law.
Motherboard a news outlet cites a criminal complaint about Nicholas J. Powell, one of the defendants who is charged by the DOJ. Officials have started investigating his customers with his cooperation. Officials have taken over his accounts to find the darknet drug vendors who are using Bitcoins. According to Nicholas Weaver, the senior researcher at UC Berkeley’s International Computer Science Center posing as money launder for Bitcoin seems a great mechanism to find the drug dealers. According to him, there are many paths to get drugs via darknet but there are fewer paths for them to get cash.
Assistant director of U.S. Secret Service Kenneth Jenkins said that they will continue to adopt measures to stop these criminals. DOJ also released a notice stating that they have seized $17 million in BTC and other cryptocurrencies from two men on the charge of selling drugs on the darknet.
DOJ has also shown its concern on wider reaching crypto matters. In May this year, DOJ has also opened a criminal investigation into BTC and Ethereum (ETH) price manipulation.