The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has discovered that drug traffickers are using Bitcoin to process their payments for their criminal activities.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a division of the DOJ, has collapsed against five people living in the People’s Republic of China and Guatemala. OFAC has announced sanctions against the five accusedand against two companies based in China.
OFAC accuses the individuals and companies of supplying chemical precursors for the production of fentanyl to the Sinaloa cartel, whose former leader Joaquín “el chapo” Guzmán Loera has now been convicted.
It should be noted that this would not be the first drug cartel involved in the use of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. In 2020, CriptoNoticias reported that the United States Drug and Control Administration (DEA) found links to some cartels’ use of cryptocurrencies has.
Chinese companies are an important source of precursors used to manufacture fentanyl drugs. The criminals then take the drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border to sell them on U.S. soil, the report said.
impact and consequences
OFAC names Yao Huatao, Wu Yaqin, Wu Yonghao, Wang Hongfei and Ana Gabriela Rubio Zea in its announcement. Also on the list are Wuhan Shuokang Biological Technology Co. Ltd. and Suzhuo Xiaoli Pharmatech Co.Ltd. The indictment also alleges that Wang Hongfei, one of the defendants, owned a cryptocurrency wallet which he allegedly used to receive payments into bitcoin on behalf of the China-based company.
The use of cryptocurrency wallets by criminals to send and receive payments anonymously is an issue of concern in the cryptocurrency industry. OFAC has emphasized that fighting the drug flow is a priority for law enforcement in the United States, particularly in relation to the opioid epidemic.
While cryptocurrency’s use of bitcoin may be a cause for concern, reports have revealed that cartels in Mexico still prefer to use banking institutions for drug money laundering than cryptocurrencies. So it could mean that the latest report is an isolated case..
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 67% of overdose deaths in the United States are due to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, making stopping the flow of chemical precursors into Mexico a priority for authorities.