Drug Enforcement Administration in the United States has seen a reduction in the use of Bitcoin for illegal or criminal activities as compared to some years back. According to Lilita Infante, DEA special agent, although the numbers have reduced, use of Bitcoin is still very much prevalent.
Bitcoin shifting from the hands of Criminals to Speculators
According to the report published in Bloomberg, Lilita Infante said that Total transaction volume associated with illegal uses has surged since 2013 as according to her experience and analysis of blockchain data showed criminal activity was behind about 90 percent of transactions in the cryptocurrency. Now, illegal activity has shrunk to about 10 percent and speculation has become the dominant driver, she said.
She also added that even though there is a significant shift in its criminal use case, Bitcoin is still pretty prominent in sophisticated criminal activities
Infante has part of the 10-person Cyber Investigative Task Force. The team focuses on dark web and virtual-currency related investigations and collaborates with other Department of Justice units including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
“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,’’
she said in an interview at her office in Weston, Florida.
“The majority of transactions are used for price speculation.’’
Cryptocurrency slowly becoming a double-edged sword for criminals
According to Infante, the dark web is where illegal goods are sold, functions exclusively in cryptocurrency, as has been the case for years, she said. What had become a growing trend in the past years is that criminal organizations, like drug cartels, were increasingly using digital currencies across their operations, from money laundering to cross-border transfers, as it was cheaper, faster and perceived to be more secure than fiats, Infante said.
But now with changing times, law enforcement is using the blockchain technology to its advantage to track the culprits. Even though criminals tend to exchange bitcoins for other coins tracing them is not really difficult.
“The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people,’’ she said. “I actually want them to keep using them.’’
As law investigators are becoming smarter, it is becoming evident that criminals will slowly start avoiding cryptocurrencies for the transactions they undertake. If this trend continues, in some years, the blockchain will slowly be devoid of criminals and the technology will be used for betterment.