Multi-Governmental Operation Busts Bitcoin Money Laundering Ring
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) recently teamed up with the law enforcement agencies of several different countries and has arrested 11 people involved in a Bitcoin based drug trafficking money laundering operation. Europol worked with the help of Spain’s Guardia Civil, Finnish law enforcement, and the US Department of Homeland Security. Together they investigated 137 people, carried out eight searches, and seized computers, devices, money counting machines that were used to launder over 8 million euros.
Europol’s statement explained that the money laundering operation originally spread the illegal money over 174 bank accounts and used credit cards to withdraw the funds in Colombia. However, not knowing that cryptocurrencies are also traceable, they switched to cryptocurrencies when they realized that transactions through banks could be tracked. They ultimately moved the dark cash through a Finnish exchange and withdrew seemingly clean Colombian pesos.
This successful law enforcement operation is part of a growing trend of action against cryptocurrency based crime. Just last month europol arrested the leader of a cybercrime syndicate that stole 1 billion euros and laundered the money through cryptocurrency exchanges. However, these occasional successes are only a fraction of the crime taking place and stronger compliance tools and regulations are needed.