US intelligence agencies managed dark money laundering schemes for a year

    In the US, the result of the operation of several government agencies was the arrest of 35 people selling weapons, drugs and smuggling on the darknet. Gold, cash, and cryptocurrencies worth $ 23 million were seized from those arrested. Including goods being prepared for sale were confiscated - from Xanax tablets to a grenade launcher and mining equipment. During the year, undercover officers of the security services managed to control money laundering schemes on the darknet to expose a whole list of criminals. In addition to the real criminal account, under the cover of which they worked, the blockchain's openness played an important role.

    Previously, operations were carried out with the aim of closing a whole marketplace like Silk Road. But the criminals usually just move to the new site, so this time the law enforcement officers decided to focus on the main actors - the suppliers of illegal goods themselves.

    During 2017-2018, a large-scale operation was conducted in the United States, in which the Investigative Department of the Department of Homeland Security, the Anti-Drug Administration, the Secret Service, the Postal Inspection Service and about 40 prosecutors offices throughout the country took part. This is the first federal-scale operation on the darknet. The results of the operation were published on 26 June.

    In October 2016, the Investigation Department of the Department of Homeland Security of the United States arrested a man who was engaged in money laundering on the darknet. He made a deal with the investigation and transferred all his accounts, logins and passwords. Services used them to advertise services, continue to provide services to old customers and attract new ones. Undercover work lasted about a year.

    The goal was to penetrate the markets, find suppliers and manufacturers of illegal goods on the darknet, get all the available information about them to prove participation in illegal operations.

    The business model, which was originally used by the launderer, assumed the identification of contractors and obtaining information about their location. So it was possible to make a whole list of 65 suppliers, real people, who were then raided. In total, more than 90 criminal cases were opened, and out of 65 planned targets, 35 were seized.

    Results of the operation:

    • The arrests of more than 35 suppliers who are engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illegal goods
    • 70 search warrants, which resulted in the seizure of large amounts of narcotic drugs, including 333 bottles of liquid synthetic opioids, more than 100,000 tablets of tramadol, 100 grams of fentanyl, more than 24 kg of xanax, and cocaine, oxycodone, MDMA, LSD, marijuana and mushrooms
    • More than 100 firearms, including pistols, assault rifles and grenade launchers
    • Five vehicles that were acquired with criminal funds or used for criminal activities
    • Over $ 3.6 million in US currency and gold bars
    • About 2,000 bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies with an approximate cost of more than $ 20 million
    • 15 tablet presses
    • Mining equipment and cryptocurrency computers

    Suppliers were trading on Silk Road, AlphaBay, Hansa, Dream and others. In the past, special operations were attempted to capture the creators and operators of the markets themselves, such as Silk Road, Silk Road 2.0 and AlphaBay. For example, in July 2017, Hansa and AlphaBay were closed . At first, the plans were to eliminate only one site - AlphaBay, but from it buyers and sellers switched to Hansa, the control of which was intercepted by law enforcement services in the Netherlands a month before the event.

    So we managed to get data on all operations, logins and passwords from accounts on this site. According to analysts, the market size of ALphaBay amounted to billions of US dollars. It later turned out that the whole operation was conceived jointly by the FBI and Europol. The creator of AlphaBay was then arrested in general by lucky - new users registered at the site received a greeting with an email address, which was used to calculate PayPal.

    This time, the security services decided to focus on the individual dealers who work on each of these sites. “It is necessary to curtail the work of one marketplace, as all criminals leave it to another site. Therefore, we focused on the criminals themselves, who use the darknet to sell drugs and weapons, ”- said Angel Melendez (Angel Melendez), HSI Special Agent in Charge.

    For the United States, the issue of combating illicit drug trafficking in the last year is becoming more and more important, since overdose leads to an unprecedented number of deaths. In 2016, according to The New York Timesfrom overdose in the US, up to 65 thousand people died, which is twice the death rate in car accidents. In other words, for an American under 50, this is the most common cause of death. Opioid analgesic fentanyl is among the most dangerous drugs .

    No details on how services could find a connection between wallets and drug sale transactions were not reported, except that "there are tools and technologies that services use to analyze the blockchain." It is also known that during the operation the service spent $ 58 thousand to develop tools for tracking bitcoins. Angel Mendelez added that the openness of the blockchain makes it difficult to conceal the money obtained in a criminal way: “Transparency is one of the key points of the blockchain. Everyone sees everything. And we can also track the information we need. ”

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