The United States Department of Justice announced on 26 June 2018 that a year-long operation to investigate and disrupt illegal activity on the darknet had been completed. This is the first nationwide undercover darknet sting in United States history.
Seventy search warrants resulted in the seizure of BTC 2,000 worth over USD 12 million and USD 8 million of other types of cryptocurrencies, USD 3.6 million of cash and gold, over 100 firearms, Bitcoin mining equipment, and a tremendous amount of drugs of all different varieties. In total, 35 darknet vendors were arrested by federal agents, and are accused of dealing narcotics to thousands of Americans.
After years of research, it appears the United States government is finally having success at disrupting darknet markets and is proving that the darknet is no longer out of their reach.
“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. This nationwide enforcement effort will reduce the supply of deadly drugs like fentanyl that are killing an unprecedented number of Americans. I want to thank our federal prosecutors, and the dedicated federal agents with DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, the Postal Inspection Service, and the Secret Service for their outstanding work,” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.
Since the early days of Bitcoin, it has been unfortunately tied to the darknet, since the relatively private and cryptographically secure nature of Bitcoin made it ideal for trafficking illegal goods. Now there are cryptocurrencies like the widely circulated Monero that are designed to be even more anonymous and untraceable. The rise and fall of Silk Road from 2011 to 2014, which was one of the biggest darknet markets in history, was tied to Bitcoin’s growth in popularity. Approximately 9.5 million Bitcoins were transacted on Silk Road.
Bitcoin is no longer associated with illicit transactions, with a recent study by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic showing that less than 1% of Bitcoin transactions were related to criminal activity.
In the past, a news story like this might have hurt Bitcoin’s price, but Bitcoin has found many legitimate mainstream uses in recent years and illegal activity no longer plays a significant role in Bitcoin’s price.
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