Research: drug traffickers increasingly use cryptocurrency ATMs to launder money

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Drug traffickers are increasingly using cryptocurrencies and ATMs to launder money, according to a new report from the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s Strategic Intelligence Division.

The analysts of the department note that in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, the volume of cross-border traffic has significantly decreased, including between the United States and Mexico. This led to the accumulation of large amounts of cash from drug traffickers in the United States.

Cryptocurrencies have become one of the ways to send money to international drug suppliers across the border without the need for physical transportation. Although statistics are not provided, the report emphasizes that cases of “money laundering using virtual currencies and cryptomats” have become more frequent.

“Drug dealers and money launderers are increasingly using virtual currency in their business as the use of these currencies becomes more widespread. There have been cases when wholesale deliveries were paid for with virtual currencies instead of cash, and such funds were used in the full cycle of money laundering, ”the study notes.

While cryptomats have to comply with the same anti-money laundering requirements as conventional banks and payment companies, “dishonest owners” can allow traffickers to deposit significant amounts of cash and hide the origin of funds.

“Virtual currencies, coupled with existing money laundering schemes, allow even more sophisticated money laundering schemes,” conclude analysts from the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Earlier, the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke about the problems of using cryptocurrencies for illegal purposes.

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