The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has revealed a cryptocurrency intelligence program aimed at identifying unlicensed crypto businesses using P2P sites, online forums, and darknet markets. These areas have consistently presented “a significant challenge to law enforcement” and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
Cryptocurrency Intelligence Program
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its budget overview for the fiscal year 2021 last week. The department has several programs that monitor crypto activities, including the Bulk Cash Smuggling Center (BCSC), which provides operational support in the enforcement and prohibition of bulk cash smuggling or transfer of illicit proceeds.
In the budget document, the DHS revealed that the BCSC has developed Cryptocurrency Intelligence Program (CIP), elaborating:
[CIP] identifies unlicensed money services businesses in the form of independent cryptocurrency brokers’ use of peer-to-peer (P2P) sites, online forums and classified advertisements, and darknet markets (DNM) to engage in unlicensed money services businesses (MSB) activity.
According to the DHS, “A large portion of these unlicensed MSBs are engaged in laundering narcotics proceeds, including opioid trafficking.”
‘Significant Challenge’ From P2P Platforms and Darknet Markets
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, under the DHS, has raised concerns over P2P platforms several times over the years. It noted that unlicensed P2P activities have continually presented “a significant challenge to law enforcement.” According to ICE, “Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are the preferred payment method in darknet markets. It is common for unlicensed P2P exchangers to obtain their bitcoin from selling illicit goods and services on darknet markets.” Noting that the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), an investigative arm of the DHS,