The Dark Web Bust
2000 Bitcoins, Hard Cash & Gold Bars
I think we can lay rest the claim that Bitcoin is used for crimes only, considering cash and gold bars (fiat system) seems to be thriving in the latest Dark Web crimes bust.
The US Department of Justice, together with multiple government agencies such as the Homeland Security, The Secret Service, Postal Inspection Service, and the DEA have busted over 35 dark web drugs and arms dealers across the nation.
To be clear, these are the drugs and arms the government didn’t deal themselves, but notorious crime syndicates on the Dark Web (which is why this is a bust and not a government investigation into their own operations).
The different agencies confiscated military grade weapons, drugs and drugs manufacturing equipment. On top of this they also seized over $30 million dollars in cash, gold bars and around 2000 Bitcoins (which alone totals to over $12 million)
The Department of Justice said in their press release that it was “a year long coordinated national operation that used the first nationwide undercover action to target vendors of illicit goods on the Darknet”.
Agents from the HSI acted as money launderers on the dark web marketplace such as the Silkroad, AlphaBay, Hansa and others, exchanging cryptocurrencies for cash.
Yes you read that right, the government itself used cryptocurrencies in crimes in order to lure in criminals. With this tactic the different levels of federal agencies were able to root out the network of black market dealers.
“Through this operation, HSI New York was able to identify numerous vendors of illicit goods, leading to the opening of more than 90 active cases around the country. The Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, working with more than 40 U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country, coordinated the nationwide investigation of over 65 targets, that lead to the arrest and impending prosecution of more than 35 Darknet vendors,” the press release states.
Nearly all the charged individuals used bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies to some degree in their operations. In one case, the federal officials are seeking the forfeiture of an additional 4,000 bitcoin that they suspect to be tied to online drug sales. If seized, the supplementary stash will put the government’s cryptocurrency requisitions to just over $40 million.
“The Darknet is ever-changing and increasingly more intricate, making locating and targeting those selling illicit items on this platform more complicated. But in this case, HSI special agents were able to walk amongst those in the cyber underworld to find those vendors who sell highly addictive drugs for a profit,” HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Derek Benner states in the official press release. “The veil has been lifted. HSI has infiltrated the Darknet, and together with its law enforcement partners nationwide, it has proven, once again, that every criminal is within arm’s reach of the law.”
This investigations findings came after Congress’ own efforts to police crimes online trafficking and the use of cryptocurrencies. The findings went public just a day after the House of Representatives passed the “Fight Illicit Networks & Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act of 2018 (H.R.6069). It’s a bipartisan bill : “to study how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex or drug trafficking and propose regulatory and legislative actions to put an end to these illicit activities.”
Rep. Juan Vargas who proposed the bill, expressed in a press release that the House’s approval is “an important first step in helping Congress understand the full extent of how virtual currencies are being used to facilitate drug and sex trafficking and will help us propose effective legislative solutions to fight these crimes.” As the bill moves up to Congress’ upper house, he “[hopes] to see the same level of support for this legislation in the Senate.”
In a 2017 National Drug Assessment, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration found that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Dash, ZCash and Monero —(with Dash, Zcash & Monero being relatively anonymous) — have become increasingly popular payment options for dark web trade. Along with fueling the human trafficking market, they are also funding marketplaces that are contributing to America’s growing opioid crisis, the administration claims.
This though implies that fiat and other methods such as wiring funds wasn’t also prominently used in human trafficking, drug trafficking and other crimes on the Dark Web. Cryptocurrencies aren’t new just this year, and have existed since 2009, Bitcoin being the most prominent. But of course the Deep Web existed before 2009, and was active and full of crimes and trafficking prior to Cryptocurrencies birth.
This investigation also implies that governments like the US don’t sell weapons to Dictators and genociders ,which we have seen a track record of throughout history. So the governments readiness to blame cryptocurrencies solely for crimes on the Dark Web is biased set to fit a narrative that ‘only the government can commit illicit crimes’.
The growing American opioid crisis also comes after the US illegal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan (which they remain in to this day).
What do you think? Yes cryptocurrencies are being used to commit crimes, but Fiat and gold bars also have track records of being used to commit crimes, both on the Dark Web and on the government level. Should we not then first deal with Fiat’s crisis with money laundering and crimes deals?