Bitcoin’s Usage for Illicit Activities Declined, DEA Special Agent Says


The overall ratio of legal to illegal usage of Bitcoin has flipped, according to a special agent at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the USA.


Bitcoin Is Used Less for Illicit Activities

According to special agent Lilita Infante of the US DEA, the ratio of using Bitcoin in legal and illegal transactions has flipped. Reportedly, five years ago, the agent discovered that about 90 percent of the transactions carried out with Bitcoin represented illegal activity. Now, however, this percentage has shrunk down to 10.

However, the agent also reveals that the overall volume of transactions with Bitcoin which are associated with illegal usage has surged since 2013:

The volume has grown tremendously, the amount of transactions and the dollar value has grown tremendously over the years in criminal activity, but the ratio has decreased. […] The majority of transactions are used for price speculation.

Agent Infante also discloses that despite the presence of privacy-focused cryptocurrencies such as Zcash and Monero, criminals still prefer Bitcoin due to its liquidity.

Blockchain Is a Double-Edged Sword

According to the agent, criminal organizations such as drug cartels, for instance, are taking advantage of digital currencies for a range of different illicit activities ranging from money laundering to cross-border transfers.

However, law enforcement is also, supposedly, using blockchain-based technology to their advantage. Infante said that the obscurity of one’s digital wallet doesn’t pose a challenge for the agents to track it. What is more, the public nature and the immutability of the blockchain allows law enforcement to track transactions and patterns.

In fact, the agent went so far as to say:

The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. […] I actually want them to keep using them.

Do you think Bitcoin will keep being used for illicit activities? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of LBN Archives; Shutterstock.

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