The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has demonstrated the existence of a Cryptocurrency Intelligence Program (CIP) in the agency’s 2021 budget proposal.
The proposal states that the CIP aims for unlicensed capital flows that take place on peer-to-peer (P2P) markets, online forums and darknet markets. The CIP has been developed by ICE’s Bulk Cash Smuggling Center (BCSC).
“The BCSC has developed a Cryptocurrency Intelligence Program (CIP) that identifies unlicensed money service companies in the form of using independent cryptocurrency brokers from peer-to-peer (P2P) sites, online forums and classified ads and darknet markets (DNM) to participate in activities without a license for money services (MSB). “
ICE states that “a large proportion” of unlicensed MSBs working with cryptocurrency on darknet and P2P markets are laundering the proceeds of drugs.
The agency adds that it has expanded its training and cyber analysis capabilities for “cyber investigations targeting darknet-illegal market places where fentanyl and chemical precursors are often sold.”
Darknet markets have been the target of numerous ICE enforcement actions in recent years, with ICE agents receiving an “advanced darknet training” since at least September 2019.
ICE is working with the US Medicines Enforcement Administration in mid-2017 to conduct a year-long national investigation into darknet suppliers, leading to more than 35 arrests. In October 2016, ICE also carried out internationally coordinated action for a week.
The unveiling of the ICE Cryptocurrency Investigations program amid increasing efforts to tackle the darknet activity worldwide.
On February 25, the Austrian Institute of Technology announced that it had collaborated with the French blockchain security company NIGMA Conseil to collaborate on blockchain forensic investigations.
The companies are working on delivering blockchain forensics services to governments and companies, including dark web scraping and wallet clustering.