The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has seen "a substantial increase" in cases involving digital currencies in the drug trade, an official told Congress yesterday.
The comment was made by Matthew Allen, an assistant director for one of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) investigative arms, speaking during a House of Representatives hearing on opioid abuse.
Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI, uses blockchain analysis to track digital currency payments connected to the heroin and fentanyl trades, according to Allen. And while the agency told the US Senate in a late 2013 statement that it was working to investigate criminal uses of the technology, his statements represent some of the first disclosures as to how it conducts those operations.
Allen told committee members:
The initial interest for DHS in digital currencies traces back to the heyday of Silk Road, the now-defunct dark market. According to a presentation dated February 2014, the department said that it was working to "build the capacity of field agents to identify virtual currency exchangers", but at the time made no reference to blockchain analysis.
Homeland Security image via Shutterstock
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