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A new U.S. task force comprising five federal enforcement agencies that regularly collaborate to investigate crypto and darknet crimes has been established, according to an announcement by the Department of Homeland Security.
Dubbed the “Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force,” the new interagency group will investigate how criminal gangs within Arizona use crypto and the dark web for crimes including drug trafficking, money laundering, personal data theft and child exploitation.
The announcement says the Task Force’s goal is to “provide increased collaboration, enhance resources, and disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that use these new and emerging technologies.”
Representatives from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Arizona, the Office for U.S. Attorneys, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Postal Inspection Service met and signed the task force into being last week with a memorandum of understanding.
The five agencies have been collaborating since 2017 and together have served justice in a number of high-profile drug trafficking cases.
Law enforcement collaborates on crypto crime
Back in March last year, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets. At the time, it was the first glimpse of what regulated crypto could look like stateside.
However, the Order was roundly criticized for lacking originality or substance. One of the meatier parts was the directive for federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, the SEC, and the CFTC, to coordinate their efforts to oversee the industry.
The Order also asked various agencies to submit regular reports about crypto to Washington.
In September, the White House issued a “comprehensive framework” that reiterated the expected coordination between the SEC and the CFTC while also stressing the need for the Treasury to cooperate, both with domestic financial institutions and with international U.S. allies.
More recently, in February, the FBI formed a Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit that will work with the Justice Department National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, which was established in 2021 to focus on crypto-related crime.