A first-of-its-kind federal task force to combat crimes related to cryptocurrency and darknet markets was approved late last week as representatives from the US Homeland Security Investigations, Office for US Attorneys, Drug Enforcement Agency, Internal Revenue Service and Postal Inspection Service met to sign a memorandum to combine their resources.
The Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force, memorialized in the memorandum on Fri, Jun 15, comes amid several other regulatory actions on crypto by US federal agencies in the last 12 months. The most recent of such actions are lawsuits filed by the SEC against exchange titans Coinbase and Binance, but also include a crackdown on crypto mixing services, cryptos deemed unregistered securities, and new tax guidelines for reporting crypto-derived income.
Per the Dept. of Justice’s press release, the goal of the new task force will be to “provide increased collaboration, enhance resources, and disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations” that use “new and emerging technologies,” in reference to the Tor Network, darknet markets, cryptocurrencies, and other anonymity-enhancing tech. The list of specific crimes it will target includes “drug trafficking, money laundering, theft of personal information, and child exploitation.”
Related prosecutions will be overseen by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces which serves to “disrupt and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States” by making use of a “prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multiagency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.”
“Drug traffickers who are hiding in the darknet will be aggressively targeted and unmasked by this task force,” commented DEA Special Agent Cheri Oz in a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement press release. The press release also stated that task force provided the government with a “unique investigative capability” that it had previously lacked, suggesting it would be more effective than other agencies and task forces currently at the government’s disposal.