ICE Exploiting Blockchain to Expose Crypto Use in Drug Trafficking

Wolfie Zhao
Jan 26, 2018 at 10:00 UTC

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has detailed how it is working to expose transactions made by illegal drug traffickers using cryptocurrencies to cover their trail.

In a written testimony to a Senate committee on Jan. 25, ICE’s deputy assistant director Greg Nevano said the agency has seen increasing usage of cryptocurrencies to pay for the trafficking of illicit drug such as opioids like fentanyl.

Combatting this growing concern, the agency said it has adopted various strategies to expose drug traders who are turning to cryptocurrencies for their difficulty to trace.

Nevano wrote in his testimony:

“In support of its diverse financial investigative efforts ICE uses undercover techniques to infiltrate and exploit peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchangers who typically launder proceeds for criminal networks engaged in or supporting dark net marketplaces.”

In addition, Nevano also indicated that ICE is employing “complex blockchain technology exploitation tools” in a bid to analyze cryptocurrency transactions and to discover the identities behind those transactions. Further, training is being provided by the agency to national and international cryptocurrency investigators to continue tackling the issue.

While he did not disclose the precise details of the agency’s cryptocurrency investigations, the comments mark ICE’s latest effort in delving into cryptocurrency’s underlying blockchain technology in order to strip its core feature of anonymity.

As reported by CoinDesk previously, in another testimony to a Senate committee, ICE reported its concern that criminal organizations have been increasingly using cryptocurrencies to launder money or pay for illicit activities.

ICE image via Shutterstock