February 6 will be a day that Larry Dean Harmon never forgets. That’s the day the Ohio native was busted for his involvement in helping darknet site AlphaBay launder its ill-gotten proceeds. As far as prosecutors have uncovered so far, he apparently laundered a minimum of 354,468 in BTC through his Helix mixing service before AlphaBay turned off its lights in 2017.
Cleveland.com reports that Harmon launched Helix in July 2014, and ran it until AlphaBay’s demise in December 2017. Calculated on the values found when the transactions were conducted, he was responsible for having scrambled around $311 million, but today’s value would put the total amount at closer to $3.7 billion.
The criminal complaint filed against him asserts that Harmon “owned and operated a Darknet search engine called Grams” (not to be confused with Telegram’s GRAM token). Harmon was aware of what he was doing, and “believed that the Darknet primarily sold drugs and illegal items.” He launched Helix, which served as a money transmitting and money-laundering business, at the same time, linking it to the Grams. Helix was available across the U.S. and, for a fee, would send crypto to recipients in a way meant to conceal the original source.
He teamed up with AlphaBay two years later, in November 2016, to give the market’s customers a way to launder money. AlphaBay also promoted Helix for its services in thwarting law enforcement oversight, and the mixing service was also tied to other marketplaces, such as Agora Market, Nucleus and Dream Market.
An undercover sting tied Harmon to Helix and AlphaBay last November, and an indictment was approved in December. On February 6, IRS and FBI agents raided his home, his offices and a leased property in Belize, seizing equipment and data that have helped prosecutors build their case. They have determined that he is behind Coin Ninja and Harmon Web Innovations, and that he held “massive” amounts of crypto assets. So far, based on a spreadsheet found during the seizure, prosecutors were able to identify at least $57 million in fiat that he reportedly possessed.
Harmon is now facing charges of conspiracy to launder money instruments, money transmission without a license and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. Prosecutors are also going to try to force him to pay millions of dollars in penalties, and turn over all financial assets in his possession.
It isn’t clear whether or not Harmon will be allowed to post bail; however, there’s a distinct possibility that he will be kept in federal custody. Since prosecutors believe there is a lot more money to which he has access, but which hasn’t been uncovered, they might consider him a flight risk and could push to make sure he stays locked up.
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