The U.S. Treasury has directed its focus to the ill-acts fastened to Bitcoin. To no wonder, the use of cryptocurrencies for detrimental purposes has been apparent for a long time.
“Virtual” currency grants “real” drugs
The White House, to slump the international drug trafficking released a series of advisories on drug purchase in the U.S., the most significant being the role played by the digital currencies in dealing with illegal substances such as Fentanyl and Opioids. The money advisory stated the potential of “convertible virtual coins” such as bitcoin, ethereum, monero and bitcoin cash to be used for selling and buying drugs.
The Kingpin Act
As reported, the department analyzed various cryptocurrency addresses and people connected with them as a part of the Foreign Narcotics Designation Act. Also known as the Kingpin Act, the FNDA subsists to ban the trading and transactions between the U.S. entities and the drug traffickers.
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) revealed their actions “to step up financial pressure upon those who manufacture, sell, or distribute synthetic opioids or their precursor chemicals.” These actions assist the inquiries being performed to face the drugs plaguing America.
You are under the list!
On 21 August, the administration announced the addition of 11 Bitcoin addresses by its financial intelligence and enforcement agencies to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) list. The SDN list comprises of any addresses to be associated with the narcotics operators. Further, no U.S. individual can perform any transaction with these addresses.
Cryptocurrencies are into the mainstream with bitcoin attaining a market cap in billions. However, its trading is not always clean. As reported last year, one-quarter of bitcoin users and one-half of bitcoin transactions are related to illegal acts. Also, around $70 billion of unlawful activities per year involve bitcoin, close to the U.S. and European drug market scales.
Soon after the Treasury updated the list, it was uncovered that three of the narcotic operators were Chinese citizens: Fujing Zheng, Guanghua Zheng, and Xiaobing Yan.
The U.S. – A bitcoin critic
The U.S. authorities have always been cynical of digital currencies. With the unveiling of drug possession through these coins, the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin stated the practice of “very very strong” regulations to ensure the prohibition of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from advancing to the level of swiss accounts. Since 2000, more than 2,200 individuals have been titled under the Kingpin Act.
Fentanyl, as per the Drug Enforcement Agency is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine and is contemplated to enter the U.S. boundaries in different ways, including direct purchases from China, domestic distribution, or via cross-border trafficking from Mexico. According to the reports, fentanyl seized last year was enough to kill every American four times. Currently, the advisories set the light on four aspects of illicit drug trafficking involving the manufacturing, marketing, movement, and money.
Create a problem and sell the solution!
Although today the U.S. government fights the drug epidemic outstretching its reach to the Americans, this trouble is self-invited by the nation. The country was the sole financier of the Muslim militants in 1979, who later grew to be the “opium czars.” Assisting them with arms and funds, the American government pushed the opium harvest, which eventually led to the protuberance of the drug. Further, the U.S. simply could not command the swelling of the heroin trade.
Though the stemming of opium poppy cultivation and production had been significant, yet not primary, for the United States.
In 1984, the Afghan-Pakistan frontier supplied a monstrous 60% of the U.S. market with heroin. The U.S. authorities made anti-drug efforts in early 2002. The applications though minimal in the beginning, did rise, but the strategy shifted from eradication to providing legal, financial opportunities to cut drug funding. And soon the counternarcotics began to disengage.
Healthcare? I better take Opium.
The country offers quite expensive healthcare facilities which tend to force people to procure cheap alternatives such as drugs to get over the sufferings. Used as an option, these drugs become an addiction and pave the way for drug-overdose deaths, which are certainly peaking in the United States. Also, a significant amount of abusers’ first exposure to Opium had been by lawful prescription.
Bitcoin cannot conceal the truth.
Bitcoin might be aggravating the epidemic, but using this cryptocurrency for illegal acts is not what smart criminals do!
Internet coin is vulnerable. The crooks cannot hide behind Bitcoin. Its pseudo-anonymity seems to be a powerful tool to finance felony, but the blockchain dutifully records all transactions. This can be a blessing in disguise for authorities if approached well.
Where the authorities are banning bitcoin and bounding its ascend, people are hopeful of blockchain in rendering solutions. The tracking of prescriptions and population health data are added to the growing list of innovative blockchain uses. The ledger tech is put to work by IBM, Intel, CDC to combat the accelerating opioid plague.
Do you think adopting blockchain can prove to be an anti-narcotics move? I think the government should flip the coin, for once!