The US Department of Justice (DOJ), in cooperation with various other government agencies, has recently seized over 2,000 bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies after cracking down on darknet market vendors. Per the DOJ, over $20 million worth of cryptocurrencies were seized.
Through an announcement published by the Department of Justice, the operation was spearheaded by special agents of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which posed as money launderers on various darknet marketplaces.
This way, they were reportedly able to identify “numerous vendors of illicit goods,” which saw authorities open more than 90 active cases around the country. These led to the arrest of 35 darknet vendors, and the seizure of cryptocurrency miners, illegal weapons, drugs, $3.6 million in fiat and gold bars, and “2,000 bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, with an approximate value of more than $20 million.”
Referring to the operation’s success, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein stated:
Criminals who think that they are safe on the Darknet are wrong… We can expose their networks, and we are determined to bring them to justice. Today, we arrested more than 35 alleged Darknet vendors. We seized their weapons, their drugs, and $23.6 million of their ill-gotten gains.
Rosenstein revealed the nationwide effort is set to reduce the supply of drugs, and specifically mentioned fentanyl, a drug various darknet market vendors frown upon for being an extremely dangerous one, as it’s said an amount “as small as a grain of sand” can kill an adult. 100 grams of fentanyl were seized in the operation.
The seizures add to an existing pool of cryptocurrencies the US government has seized in the past. These could eventually be auctioned off into the market, as authorities have auctioned 80,000 BTC seized from the now-defunct darknet market Silk Road.
The DOJ’s announcement further touted the bust, adding that “the veil has been lifted,” and that “every criminal is within arm’s reach of the law.” Secret Service Assistant Director Kenneth Jenkins added that:
The Secret Service is proud to work with our law enforcement partners to help combat one of the largest threats to the U.S. financial infrastructure, money laundering with virtual currency.
Notably these comments are seemingly part of an “intimidation game” authorities have been playing with darknet market vendors. Last year, when various US agencies coordinated with the Dutch police to take down two of the darknet’s then biggest markets, AlphaBay and Hansa, Dutch authorities told darknet vendors “you have our attention.”
As CryptoGlobe reported earlier this month, authorities have recently arrested a well-known darknet market vendor known as OxyMonster after tracking him down through his bitcoin transactions.