Arrest of criminals accused of laundering money with cryptocurrencies for drug cartels in Mexico

The Department of Justice of the United States made a formal indictment on October 15, 2020 against six individuals accused of laundering millions of dollars of drug proceeds on behalf of cartels mexicans.

He archive published on the official website of the US justice body, goes against six people of Asian descent accused of participating in a year-long conspiracy to use casinos, shell companies, cash, cryptocurrencies and bank accounts in the US, to launder money on behalf of trafficking organizations drugs from Mexico.

According to the public document, the prosecution also alleges that one of those implicated “planned to bribe a US State Department official using wire transfers and cryptocurrencies to create US passports that this person and his associates would use to enter the United States. “

The allegations are the results of a seven-month undercover investigation, in addition to general work carried out against Asian money laundering networks in the United States, China and other places not specified for four years by the Department of Justice.

“I would like to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and our federal law enforcement partners to take down a criminal organization that laundered drug proceeds for Mexican cartels. Drug traffickers and money launderers operate globally, but this investigation shows that they will be brought to justice wherever they are, ”said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the criminal justice division.

The case was investigated as part of two Organized Crime Anti-Drug Task Forces “OCDETF,” a multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional task force that provides federal funding to agencies involved in the fight against drug trafficking.

In addition, the Department of Justice had the collaboration of the Mexican agency, Australia, New Zealand and Guatemala during this investigation, which has led five of the six people behind bars for drug trafficking and money laundering offenses.

The six criminals, according to the report, communicated most of the illicit activities with each other through mobile messaging applications such as WhatsApp Y WeChat, and they worked as an organization whose task it was to help the drug cartels in Mexico launder millions of dollars from the proceeds of drug trafficking.

Drugs and cryptocurrencies

It is not the first time that cryptocurrencies appear among the accusation files of justice agencies as a means of payment or money laundering of money from illicit activities

From the famous case of Silk Road in 2013, the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has been the order of the day for criminals and organizations specialized in money laundering all over the world, as is the case with the US dollar.

Last July of this year, the US law enforcement agencies announced in that sense that they were monitoring the purchase of drugs with Bitcoin on the darknet, or better known as the ‘dark web‘.

The NCIS pointed out at that time, that it had seen an increase in purchases on the darknet using Bitcoin as drugs by users on American soil.

“Recent police reports have revealed that an increasing number of people are switching to buying illicit substances via the darknet due to the perception of anonymity provided by tools such as The Onion Router (TOR). They also use cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. to pay for purchases. “

Despite the warnings of the use of cryptocurrencies for illicit activities on the dark web, its percentage remains minimal compared to the use of cash for such purposes. The most effective controls in recent months by the authorities towards exchange houses to prevent the use of cryptocurrencies for illicit purposes finally seems to be taking effect.

According to CipherTrace’s report on Cryptocurrency Crimes and Anti-Money Laundering from Spring 2020, the global average of direct criminal funds received by exchanges decreased by 47% in 2019. This demonstrates a three-year low for cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide, as only 0.17% of the funds received by exchanges in 2019 came from criminal sources.

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