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  • K Kim and M Bacina

US plans to form Digital Currency Crimes Task Force

On 20 June the United States officially announced their plans to establish a Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force. In a joint effort, five enforcement agencies with special agents including Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations. Arizona and Drug Enforcement Administration, Inspector in Charge from the US Postal Inspection Service and Attorney Gary Restaino signing a memorandum of understanding on 15 June, memorializing the Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force.

The organisation intends to target darknet drug vendors and crimes enabled by cryptocurrency, including money laundering, data theft and child exploitation. It was reported:

The Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force’s mission is to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that exploit the appearance of anonymity on the darknet or use digital currency to facilitate criminal activities.

Federal agencies in Arizona say they have collaborated on numerous occasions already to investigate and prosecute "criminal activities facilitated through the use of cryptocurrency on dark web marketplaces and other anonymous platforms". Recent prosecutions have concerned drug distribution through the dark web and money laundering via cryptocurrency exchanges. This task force with a unique investigative capability will produce more "impactful repercussions" by expanding the collaboration and encouraging resource sharing between agencies.

Our agents excel in addressing sophisticated cyber-related schemes and are up to the challenge of locating and apprehending criminals who try to hide in the digital world.

Law enforcement agencies around the globe have been moving towards establishing specialised units to tackle the use of crypto-assets by criminals who don't seem to realise how traceable crypto-assets are, with Interpol’s crypto crimes unit and Canadian police forming local task forces and prosecutions tracing criminals use of crypto-assets faster than ever before.

The US Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force is seeking to have an international impact with Homeland Security Investigations having 93 offshore locations across 56 different countries, making it "one of the largest international footprints in US law enforcement".

What will be closely followed is the metrics the task force chooses to use to measure performance and how that metric tracks over time.


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