Cryptocurrencies have revolutionized the financial landscape, offering unprecedented benefits such as decentralized transactions and borderless payments.
However, this digital revolution comes with a darker side as cryptocurrencies have become a formidable tool on the dark web, enabling illicit activities such as the buying and selling of illegal goods and services, posing challenges for law enforcement agencies worldwide.
To stop dark web crypto crime, investigators from the top five US federal agencies teamed up to launch a new task force, according to a June 20 press release by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Per the announcement, the new crossover squad, dubbed “Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force,” brings together special agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Unit, and federal prosecutors.
For the time being, the new squadron will focus its efforts in the state of Arizona, while it remains unclear whether the investigators plan to expand their operations to other states.
Crypto is the preferred means of payment on the dark web
The establishment of the new special task force comes amid a critical period as crypto becomes one of the main means of funding illegal activities on the dark side of the internet.
Due to their decentralized nature and anonymity, criminals have been using crypto assets to trade drugs, firearms, and other illicit products and services.
Earlier this year, European Union’s law enforcement agency Europol conducted a major coordinated operation with nine other countries, which led to a shutdown of the illegal dark web marketplace “Monopoly Market” and the arrest of 288 suspects involved in trading of drugs on the dark web.
The operation, named ‘SpecTor’, resulted in the seizure of more than EUR 50.8 million (USD $55.69 million) in cash and cryptocurrencies, 850 kg of drugs, and 117 firearms