Updated June 23rd, 2023
In an unprecedented effort to curb crimes associated with cryptocurrencies and the darknet, five U.S. agencies have joined forces to establish a new task force focused on these emerging threats.
The agencies include Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Arizona, the office of U.S. Attorney Gary M. Restaino, IRS Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This collaboration was formalized through a memorandum of understanding signed on June 15, 2023.
The objective of the Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force is to target and investigate crimes enabled by cryptocurrencies and carried out on dark web marketplaces. The formation of this task force is a response to the increasingly sophisticated criminal activities that have exploited the anonymity provided by these platforms.
Since 2017, these federal partners have concentrated on darknet drug vendors and cryptocurrency-enabled crimes, adapting their intelligence, resources, and tools to match the technological advancements utilized by criminal actors. The task force will enable these agencies to continue their collaboration and enhance their ability to intercept and prosecute digital crimes
According to Scott Brown, HSI Arizona Special Agent in Charge, “This task force will have impactful repercussions on those criminal operators who attempt to grow their businesses and launder the illicit proceeds through advancing technology. HSI looks forward to growing in this investigative space alongside our law enforcement partners.”
The joint efforts have already led to numerous prosecutions in recent years. Some significant cases include those against darknet drug traffickers who laundered their proceeds through cryptocurrencies, such as the Ruelas, McCoy, and Cummings cases.
In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation established a Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit earlier this year, collaborating with the Justice Department’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team.
With the formation of the Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force, these agencies are poised to enhance their collective efforts in tackling crypto-enabled crimes on the darknet, providing a united front against criminal activities in the digital currency realm.