The US Treasury Department has issued sanctions on three Chinese nationals accused of trafficking synthetic opioids, blacklisting 11 Bitcoin addresses and one Litecoin address associated with the group.
According to the Treasury, the drug kingpins ran an international operation that directly contributed to opioid addiction and deaths in the US.
“The Zheng DTO touted its ability to create custom-ordered drugs and avoid detection from customs and law enforcement officials when shipping the drugs through express mail and the U.S. Postal Service. The Zheng DTO also used its chemical expertise to create analogues of drugs with slightly different chemical structures but the same or even more potent effect…
The Zheng DTO laundered its drug proceeds in part by using digital currency such as bitcoin, transmitted drug proceeds into and out of bank accounts in China and Hong Kong, and bypassed currency restrictions and reporting requirements.”
It’s not the first time the US has moved to ban Bitcoin addresses. In November of last year, the Treasury added two Bitcoin addresses to its sanctions list that were connected to two accused Iranian cyber-criminals.
It remains to be seen what the full impact of escalating efforts to blacklist Bitcoin addresses will have on the leading cryptocurrency.
According to Babel Finance CEO Flex Yang, crypto traders are already willing to pay more for “virgin” Bitcoin – never before traded, transferred or connected to any criminals, crimes or illicit activities.
“Bitcoin has, in a sense, become the new trust fund. Buyers have entered the market for virgin bitcoin, in large part, due to their novelty. With such coins, there persists a notion of rarity and exclusivity, prompting buyers to pay as much as a 20% markup on coins with no transaction history.