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Europol Suspects a Major Bitcoin Money Laundering Network

The operation by Spanish security forces included support from Finland and the US Homeland Security involved search on many computers, money counters, and bags. The team also acquired information about suspects’ accounts from a crypto exchanged based in Finland.

European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) says it napped 11 people and identified 137 suspects allegedly potentially engaging in illicit drug sales and money laundering involving cryptocurrencies and credit cards.

The suspects deposited more than EUR 8 million in cash using 174 bank accounts. The law enforcement officials conducted eight searches on several computers, devices, and equipment used to commit the crimes including money bags or money counting machines.

Named Tulipan Blanca, the operation by Spanish security forces included support from Finland and the US Homeland Security Department.

The criminals used Bitcoin claiming that it was hard to track. However, the officials had an easy time tracking the case, because Bitcoin is easier to track more than other privacy-focused cryptocurrencies such as Monero.

Based in Finland

The suspects sold drugs and converted the money into Bitcoins through the exchange, in order to hide identity. They would then change the cryptocurrency into Colombian pesos and deposit it into Colombian bank accounts on the same day.

According to the police, the Bitcoin exchange where Bitcoins changed hands is in Finland. The officials got information about the suspects from this exchange.

The case demonstrates continued use of cryptocurrencies in money laundering and drug trading. The agency says around three to four billion pounds ($4.1 to $5.5 billion) is laundered through cryptocurrencies in Europe alone.

It is a common world-over wherever crypto is popular, although that’s not entirely what cryptocurrencies are used for. For instance, many authorities cite a need for crypto regulations due to their use in money laundering and drug trafficking.

If Bitcoin is easy to track and unravel use in money laundering and drug trafficking, then what’s all the buzz about cryptocurrencies’ giving troubles for regulators and hence the regulations?

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David

David Kariuki is a journalist who has a wide range of experience reporting about modern technology solutions including cryptocurrencies. A graduate of Kenya's Moi University, he also writes for Hypergrid Business, Cryptomorrow, and Cleanleap, and has previously worked for Resources Quarterly and Construction Review magazines.

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