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Bitcoin Transactions Lead to International Drug Trafficking Ring’s Arrests

Criminals often express their favoritism toward cryptocurrencies. The perceived privacy and anonymity associated with this payment method makes for an excellent tool. In the US, the Treasury is now targeting Chinese drug kingpins. More specifically, they are monitoring Bitcoin revenue streams. That form of payment has become all the more prominent as time went by.

CHINA, DRUGS, AND BITCOIN

The vast majority of drugs and other narcotics consumed in the United States is not home-grown. It is often imported from countries such as Colombia, Mexico, and in a fair few cases, even China. Particularly where opioids are concerned, Chinese drug dealers are playing an increasing role of importance. They are also involved in shipping fentanyl analogues and cannabinoids, among other substances. 

Several arrests were made in August of 2018. At that time, the US Attorney’s Office highlighted an indictment in federal court in Ohio. Two Chinese individuals – who are father and son – were charged with operating, manufacturing, and shipping various illegal substances. It is believed they served customer sin at least three dozen US states and over two dozen countries in total. It appears some of their business was conducted on the darknet, albeit exact details have not been provided as of yet. 

Organized crime groups – or even entrepreneurial individuals – will seek out payment methods which can mask their identity. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies continue to play an increasing role of importance in that regard. Although Bitcoin isn’t private nor anonymous, it is often perceived in such a manner. Most of the drug proceeds generated by these two Chinese individuals were laundered through multiple cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. 

To be more specific, the OFAC has monitored Bitcoin addresses allegedly associated with these drug dealers. How this information was obtained, is unknown at this time. It seems plausible to assume several deals were made by these Chinese individuals as part of the ongoing investigation. That would indicate the criminals continued to use the same Bitcoin addresses over and over again. Given the vast number of blockchain analysis companies, it is not overly difficult to put one and one together. 

Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker explains: 

“The Chinese kingpins that OFAC designated today run an international drug trafficking operation that manufactures and sells lethal narcotics, directly contributing to the crisis of opioid addiction, overdoses, and death in the United States.  Zheng and Yan have shipped hundreds of packages of synthetic opioids to the U.S., targeting customers through online advertising and sales, and using commercial mail carriers to smuggle their drugs into the United States. OFAC and FinCEN’s coordinated action with U.S. law enforcement leverages Treasury’s authorities to confront the deadly synthetic opioid crisis plaguing America.”

Based on this information, one has to wonder if this is a two-man operation. Shipping hundreds of packages is not as labor-intensive as one may think. However, international drug trafficking operations on this scale are often run by a much larger crew. These two Chinese drug dealers may be small fish leading to a bigger whale if the investigation is successful. The Bitcoin transactions themselves may shed more light on how this operation was run exactly. 

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Bitcoin Price Prediction: BTC/USD bulls face an uphill task as five strong resistance levels hold the price down – Confluence Detector

  • BTC/USD dropped from $9,662 to $9,307.85 this Tuesday.
  • There are no healthy support levels on the downside.

BTC/USD daily confluence detector

fxsoriginal

BTC/USD had a heavily bearish Tuesday as the price dropped drastically from $9,662 to $9,307.85. It has fallen further to $9,300 in the early hours of Wednesday. The daily confluence detector has no healthy support levels on the downside, which are holding the price up. On the upside, there are five strong resistance levels which the bulls will need to overcome. These levels are at $9,325, $9,350, $9,550, $9,580 and $9,700

$9,325 has the Previous Week low and 4-hour Bollinger Band, while $9,350 has the one-day Bollinger Band, SMA 5, 15-min Previous Low and one-day Fibonacci 23.6% retracement level. $9,550 has the one-week Fibonacci 23.6% retracement level and SMA 200. The strongest resistance level is at $9,580, which has the Previous Month high and one-day Pivot Point resistance-one. Finally, $9,700 has the one-week Fibonacci 38.2% retracement level, one-hour Bollinger Band, four-hour Bollinger Band and SMA 100.

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BITCOIN DECOUPLES FROM GOLD, HAS IT LOST SAFE HAVEN STATUS?

The Rundown

  • Bitcoin Sheds 5%
  • Gold Still Bullish

Bitcoin has plunged through key levels of support today dragging the entire crypto market down with it as usual. Gold conversely continues to rise, is BTC still a safe haven?

Crypto markets have dumped over $15 billion in the past 24 hours as the correction accelerates. The move lower was largely expected after such an extended period of good gains and there is no need for panic or FUD just yet.

Total market cap is back down at $260 billion which is 10% lower than it was at the beginning of the week. Volatility is still a huge aspect of crypto asset markets.

BITCOIN SHEDS 5%

Bitcoin has collapsed through key support levels at $9,300 today as it bottomed out at $9,100 during early hours trading in Asia.

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BTC chart 1 hour – Tradingview.com

The move has accelerated losses which began almost a fortnight ago and have so far resulted in a 13% pullback which is nothing unusual for BTC.14 BTC & 30,000 Free Spins for every player, only in mBitcasino’s Crypto Love Affair! Play Now!

It is currently holding on to this support level with the lower one around $8,800. Below that there is nothing stopping a dump down to $8,300 where more solid support lies. A move to the upside is looking very unlikely at the moment.

GOLD STILL BULLISH

According to the charts the precious yellow metal hit a new seven year high this week of $1,670/oz marking an overall rise of 10% this year which is impressive for a non-volatile asset.

With bitcoin’s decline some have begun to question its status as ‘digital gold’ as it decouples from the asset.

Naturally serial bitcoin basher and goldbug Peter Schiff couldn’t resist sticking his oar in despite BTC outperforming gold this year by 16%. It should be noted that these tweets generally appear to be posted solely to troll the crypto community.

“It should be clear to Bitcoin bugs and CNBC anchors that Bitcoin is digital risk, not digital gold.”

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Finnish Authorities Have $15M in Seized Bitcoin But Don’t Want to Sell It

Finland’s customs agency has been struggling with what to do with a horde of bitcoin it fears could end up back in the hands of criminals if sold off.

Finnish Customs, known locally as Tulli, has been trying to offload a total of 1,666 bitcoin for several years, even drawing up a plan in September 2018 for a public auction of the digital coins. But officials have concerns that a sale would attract the wrong kind of attention and that it could even put the agency’s own security at risk.

Speaking to local media, Tulli director Pekka Pylkkanen said: “From our point of view, the problems are specifically related to the risk of money laundering. The buyers of [cryptocurrency] rarely use them for normal endeavors.”

Tulli confiscated the bitcoin trove following a successful bust of an online dark market in September 2016. At the time, bitcoin traded at around $570, meaning the 1,666 BTC was worth approximately $950,000. With prices now just under $9,200, it’s worth closer to $15 million, according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index.

At bitcoin’s all-time peak near $20,000 in December 2017, the cache would have been worth almost $33 million.

Tulli isn’t the only government authority having to decide what to do with confiscated bitcoin, usually with dollar-values many times greater than when they were first seized. The U.S. government, which has seized hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of bitcoin over the years, has hosted multiple online auctions for confiscated bitcoin.

Bitcoin confiscated by the Belgian authorities was sold by an online auction house in early 2019. And later that year, U.K. police used the same auctioneer to sell more than $290,000 worth of cryptocurrency it had seized from a teenage hacker.

In 2018, the Finnish government barred customs officials from trying to sell seized bitcoin on exchanges or trading platforms, ordering the agency instead to hold any confiscated digital assets in a secure cold storage solution.

Pylkkanen’s claim that most crypto holders use them for illicit purposes isn’t supported by the numbers. A November report from blockchain analytics firm Elliptic suggested $829 million in bitcoin, just 0.5 percent of all transactions, were linked to the dark web.


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