The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed sanctions on cryptocurrency wallets allegedly linked to individuals and companies involved in the production of fentanyl.
In a notice dated October 3, the US Department of Justice issued Announce Indictments against several chemical manufacturers in China as well as several of their employees, who allegedly used cryptocurrency transactions as part of an illegal scheme to distribute fentanyl precursors. According to US authorities, the companies “tend to use cryptocurrency transactions to hide their identities and the location and movement of their funds,” and they identified at least 3 individuals who were holding encrypted wallets for payments.
OFAC has added wallets for Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), USD Coin (USDC), Tether (USDT), and Tron (TRX) linked to Chinese nationals and Valerian Labs to its list of Specially Designated Nationals along with companies including Hanhong Pharmaceutical Technology Co., Ltd. Hebei Crovel Biotechnology Co., Ltd. According to Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, the enforcement action was aimed at disrupting an illicit drug network.
‘[W]It has identified and blocked more than a dozen virtual currency wallets associated with these actors. He said Adeyemo. “The blocked wallets, which received millions of dollars in funds across hundreds of deposits, demonstrate the scope and scale of the operation targeted today.”
The Department of Justice announces eight indictments against chemical manufacturers and their employees in Chinahttps://t.co/f37okHaa6z
– Ministry of Justice (@TheJusticeDept) October 3, 2023
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Many lawmakers urged to crack down on the distribution of fentanyl in the United States, where the drug is located estimated to be responsible for more than 67,000 deaths in 2021. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren – an outspoken critic of digital assets – spoke about potential links between cryptocurrency payments and drug trafficking at a hearing in May.
The first week of October also marked the tenth year since Ross Ulbricht, founder of the online marketplace Silk Road, was imprisoned. Many have criticized the platform for facilitating the drug trade by allowing payments using digital assets, but Ulbricht still has his supporters in the cryptocurrency space.
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