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IRS, DHS, DEA form new task force targeting ‘crypto’ crime

Five United States federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), have formed a new task force to crack down on crime in the digital asset world.

Known as the Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force, it will target criminals who rely on the pseudonymity digital currencies offer to facilitate crimes. The mission is to “disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that exploit the appearance of anonymity on the darknet or use digital currency to facilitate criminal activities.”

These crimes include drug trafficking, theft of personal information, child exploitation, and money laundering.

“As these criminal activities and enterprises have become more sophisticated, law enforcement tools, resources, and intelligence have had to adapt,” the agencies said in a press release announcing the new task force.

The IRS and DHS also partnered with the Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and federal prosecutors on the new initiative.

The task force will have global reach as DHS operates in over 50 countries. However, it will initially focus on crimes within Arizona.

“This task force will have impactful repercussions on those criminal operators who attempt to grow their businesses and launder the illicit proceeds through advancing technology. [Homeland] looks forward to growing in this investigative space alongside our law enforcement partners,” commented Homeland’s Scott Brown.

The IRS also pledged its commitment to cracking down on digital asset crimes. The tax agency is increasingly investing resources to tackling ‘crypto’ crime, agent Al Childress stated. The IRS is “up to the challenge of locating and apprehending criminals who try to hide in the digital world,” he added.

In May, the IRS announced it would send its agents to Singapore, Germany, and other countries to investigate digital asset crime. The agency has reportedly seized over $10 billion worth of digital assets since it started investigating the industry.

The five agencies join others in the U.S. and elsewhere, putting up specialized divisions and task forces to target crypto crime. In the U.S., the SEC doubled the headcount in its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit in 2022 and plans on expanding it even further this year. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have also launched specialized teams targeting digital asset crime.

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