DOES USING CRYPTOCURRENCY FOR ILLICIT REASONS IMPACT DRUG CHARGES
April 13, 2020
Headlines about cryptocurrency being involved in the drug trade used to be fairly common, but now the practice seems to have decreased substantially. As Bitcoin becomes more mainstream in Colorado, the United States and throughout the world, a decreasing percentage of its overall use involves illicit activities. Users are also increasingly skeptical of how anonymous cryptocurrency truly is when it comes to drug charges and police investigations.
In the earlier days of Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency was a popular choice for a number of illicit transactions. Some of the more headline-grabbing stories involved drugs, but weapons and other illegal substances were also traded using the online currency on the dark web. The dark web is a term for internet sites accessible only on the Tor browser, which are not cataloged in search engines.
Silk road was the most well-known online portal for drug transactions using Bitcoin. By the time it was shut down by the FBI in 2013, over a million transactions had taken place through the website. Bitcoin spending on illicit purchases continued to rise after this story broke, peaking at nearly $1 billion in 2017.
However, crypto services are becoming increasingly concerned with abiding by Know Your Customer (KYC) rules. As such, it is becoming much harder to operate anonymously on these websites. Ultimately, it is very difficult for people to complete drug transactions online without their purchases being traced to them, even using cryptocurrency. The use of a person’s digital footprint is still fairly new in drug charges, and mistakes can be made. It is important that those accused of such charges have a criminal defense lawyer carefully review the evidence to understand defense options in these cases.