Business 18 July 2018

Erik Gibbs

Police pick up Brazilian gang accused of laundering millions via crypto

Twelve individuals in Brazil suspected of being part of a multi-million dollar money laundering and drug network that extended around the globe have some new accommodations. The suspects were nabbed by the country’s Federal Police and charged with using SegWit BTC to launder millions of dollars that they earned from a drug smuggling racket that reached Europe, Africa and Asia. The new accommodations don’t include mints on the pillow or turn-down service.

Brazil’s Folha de S. Paulo media outlet reported the arrests. According to the news outlet, the police, in conjunction with the country’s Department of Federal Reserve, conducted an operation called “Antigoon,” in which more than 100 federal policemen executed 21 search warrants and 15 arrest warrants in Rio de Janeiro, Espírito Santo and São Paulo. Antigoon followed an investigation that lasted almost a year and resulted in the seizure of more than four tons of cocaine from different ports in the South American country. The drugs reportedly made their way to Brazil from Bolivia and Colombia, where they were to be shipped to various ports around Africa, Asia and Europe.

According to the report, Brazil had been a major shipping corridor for the drugs and “millions and millions of dollars” worth of cocaine passed through its borders as it traveled to its final destination. Carlos Eduardo Thomé, a representative of the Federal Police, said that the accused had received partial payment via BTC and other cryptocurrencies in an effort to “evade control instruments.” He explained, “The gang received part of its payments in virtual currencies to make them difficult to track, and to avoid getting their massive and atypical money movements detected.”

The police have not released the exact amount of money that the gang earned. Another representative of the Federal Police said, Osvaldo Scalezi, said that those arrested were tied to drug cartels in South America that are going to be involved in additional investigations. He added that there were other drug seizures in European countries, including Spain, Italy and Belgium.

Among those arrested include several businessmen, truckers and airport employees. The police indicated that the gang was able to operate through fake companies created for shipping or by hijacking third-party shipping containers in which they hid their goods.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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