Europol Crackdowns Criminal Bitcoin Money Laundering Network
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) on Monday revealed that 11 people identified 137 suspects allegedly partners in a money laundering network making use of had been apprehended.
Reports state that Europol’s operation which was named Tulipan Blanca was conducted by the Spanish security forces which were backed by the US Homeland Security Department.
According to Europol: “As a result of the operation the Spanish Guardia Civil carried out eight searches and seized several computers, devices and the equipment used to commit the crimes, such as money bags or money counting machines … The investigation shows that the suspects deposited more than EUR 8 million in cash using 174 bank accounts.”
Europol explained that it was discovered in the investigations that the suppose criminals carrying out the money laundering act by using bitcoin, highlighting the difficulty they faced in tracking funds.
Yet, compared to other privacy-focused cryptocurrencies such as Monero, bitcoin is easily tracked, which made it easier for Europol to access all the needed information.
The agency stated, “The police officers were able to find that the local bitcoin exchange was based in Finland and gathered all the information on the suspects held by the cryptocurrency exchange. The criminals used the exchange to convert their illicit proceeds into bitcoins, then change the cryptocurrency into Colombian pesos and deposit it into Colombian bank accounts on the same day.”
The success of Europol goes to indicate the massive effort of the agency to get rid of cryptocurrency criminal activities. Presently, cryptocurrency is being used to launder close to three to four billion pounds according to Europol.
Even though Europol’s effort may become difficult, yet as more people are trying to use cryptocurrencies for criminal activities are losing interest in the not so bitcoin, they are moving towards more privacy-focused cryptocurrencies such as Monero, ZCash, and Dash.