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US Authorities Seize $34M in Crypto Linked to Illegal Dark Web Activity

Federal prosecutors in Miami have seized millions in crypto as part of a larger operation to crack down on drug and financial crimes.

2 min read
Miami. Image: Shutterstock

Federal prosecutors in Miami, Florida, have seized $34 million worth of cryptocurrency in what has been described as “one of the largest cryptocurrency forfeiture actions ever filed by the United States.” 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), law enforcement identified a South Florida resident “raking in millions” via an online alias selling stolen account information on the dark web from services like HBO, Netflix, and Uber. 

The individual used crypto tumblers—services that obfuscate individuals from their cryptocurrency transactions—to launder their holdings. This was done by pooling together multiple crypto transactions and distributing the holdings to designated wallets at random times and in random increments. 

The DoJ confirmed that law enforcement agents seized several crypto wallets connected with the South Florida resident’s illegal dark web activity. 

Operation TORnado cracks down on dark web

The seizure of $34 million worth of crypto resulted from Operation TORnado. This investigation utilized federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the DEA, and Homeland Security Investigations.  In turn, the investigation stems from the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF). 

The OCDETF’s principal mission is to “identify, disrupt, and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States,” the DoJ said. 

Asset Forfeiture Division Assistant U.S. Attorney Mitch Hyman, alongside Deputy Chiefs Nicole Grosnoff and Nalina Sombuntham, prosecuted this case. 

Monique Botero, Chief of the Southern District of Florida’s International Money Laundering and Narcotics Section, is the lead prosecutor for Operation TORnado.

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