DEA: Criminal Activity Drops 80% in Bitcoin Transactions

Since Bitcoin’s inception, many crypto aficionados have worked to dissociate their favorite digital coin from the notion that it may be used for illegal activity, and new data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is proving that criminal activity in the space is massively shrinking.

Has Illegal Activity Really Dropped?

According to Bloomberg, Lilita Infante of the DEA first reported seeing Bitcoin in her cases in 2013. At the time, illegal activity comprised of 90 percent of transactions in cryptocurrency. Today, however, that number has dropped significantly–with illegal activity only accounting for 10 percent of cryptocurrency transactions.

Despite the 80 percent drop in criminal transactions, Infante told Bloomberg that “illegal uses have surged since 2013.” In an interview, she said:

“The volume has grown tremendously, the amount of transactions and the dollar value has grown tremendously over the years in criminal activity, but the ratio has decreased. The majority of transactions are used for price speculation.”

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Although the DEA’s findings have proven that Bitcoin isn’t solely used by tech-savvy delinquents, there are still a large number of criminal organizations using crypto for money laundering, cross-border transfers and more, Infante told Bloomberg.

For example, in July 2018, Bloomberg reported that Bitcoin was the “currency of choice among the Russian intelligence officers indicted for hacking offenses related to the 2016 presidential campaign.”

This isn’t an issue for the DEA, however. Law enforcement officials have turned to blockchain technology as a way to track transactions and patterns, as well as wallet addresses, to trace criminal activity, according to Infante.

Additionally, Infante noted that private cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash are attractive options due to the fact that they’re more anonymous than Bitcoin. “We still have ways of tracking them,” she told Bloomberg.

In the long run, however, Infante said:

“The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. I actually want them to keep using them.”

Cover Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

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Erica Garber

Erica Garber is a journalist and editor with a passion for a breadth of industries as well as a deep interest in new technologies. A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, her work has appeared in publications including Playboy, Time Out Chicago, Modern Luxury and License Global magazine.

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