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US law enforcement agencies unite to tackle digital currency crimes

The new task force joins the growing list of specialised agencies around the world looking to exterminate crimes associated with virtual currency

Shashank Bhardwaj
Published: Jun 22, 2023 07:02:13 PM IST

US law enforcement agencies unite to tackle digital currency crimesImage: Getty Images

An assortment of enforcement agencies in the United States has officially solidified their collaboration in addressing criminal activities associated with the darknet and digital currency. On June 20, the Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force was established to target "cryptocurrency-enabled crimes" such as drug trafficking, money laundering, personal information theft, and child exploitation.

Representatives from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Arizona, the Office for US Attorneys, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Postal Inspection Service recently signed a memorandum of understanding to solidify their commitment to the new task force.

Since 2017, these agencies have been working together and have observed an escalation in the utilisation of crypto for illicit purposes. As stated in an official statement, "The primary objective of the Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force is to disrupt and dismantle criminal organisations that take advantage of the perceived anonymity provided by the darknet or exploit digital currency for unlawful activities."

Global law enforcement agencies have also established specialised units to combat crypto-related crimes. Interpol established a dedicated crypto crimes unit in late 2022, while Canadian police forces have initiated the formation of local task forces. The HSI maintains 93 overseas locations across 56 countries so that the new task force will possess international reach.

Within the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation established the Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit in February, which collaborates with the Justice Department National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team. Furthermore, the Cyber Unit of the Securities and Exchange Commission nearly doubled last year.

The establishment of such heavy task forces goes on to show that law enforcement still faces significant challenges when it comes to crypto-related crimes. According to Chainalysis, approximately 4,000 crypto whales were estimated to possess illegally obtained funds last year, while crypto phishing attacks surged by 40 percent during the same period. Nevertheless, there is evidence that law enforcement efforts are yielding positive outcomes.

The writer is the founder at yMedia. He ventured into crypto in 2013 and is an ETH maximalist. Twitter: @bhardwajshash

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