The President of the United States is known for his use of social media to raise awareness on topics important to him and bypass what he calls “fake news.” So when President Trump retweeted the news of law enforcement agencies arresting 35 dark web vendors across the country, one can rest assured that it was a major breakthrough that he feels is significant.
The huge Bitcoin stash seized during the operation was just the tip of the iceberg.
Operation Involving Multiple Agencies
It was an undercover operation involving multiple state and federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Homeland Security Investigation (HSE), among others.
The operations saw undercover agents pretending to be money launderers on illegal dark web marketplaces. Following months of surveillance and countless efforts of establishing contacts with the people behind these marketplaces, the agencies were able to identify 65 targets.
Once identified, the agencies filed 90 cases across the country to tighten the noose on this rather large criminal network. Next, the DoJ’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) collaborated with more than 40 U.S. Attorneys Offices all over the U.S. to keep a close eye on over 65 targets, which eventually led to the arrest of 35 suspects.
Speaking of the government’s determination to act against criminals taking cover under the perceived anonymity of the dark web, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, said:
“Criminals who think that they are safe on the Darknet are wrong.”
“ [….] This nationwide enforcement effort will reduce the supply of deadly drugs like fentanyl that are killing an unprecedented number of Americans. I want to thank our federal prosecutors, and the dedicated federal agents with DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, the Postal Inspection Service, and the Secret Service for their outstanding work.”
Guns, Grenade Launchers, Drugs, and Bitcoins
The grand success of the operation is obvious just from a casual look at the sheer volume of illicit goods seized:
- 2,000 Bitcoin tokens, worth more than $20 million as of press time.
- 333 bottles of liquid synthetic opioids.
- Nearly 25 kg of Xanax.
- More than 100,000 tramadol pills.
- More than a dozen pill presses used to produce synthetic opioids.
- Multiple units of Bitcoin mining rigs.
- Computer hardware of various types.
- Vacuum Sealers.
- Cash and gold bars worth more than $3.5 million.
- Over a hundred handguns, assault rifles, and one grenade launcher.
- Five vehicles.
President Trump Reacts
Not only did the POTUS retweet the news about the successful operation, which can be seen as an acknowledgment of the tremendous work put forward by all the agencies involved, he also took to Twitter to praise the ICE, one of the key participants in the operation.
Trashing the calls for disbanding of ICE, Trump tweeted earlier today:
“The Democrats are making a strong push to abolish ICE, one of the smartest, toughest and most spirited law enforcement groups of men and women that I have ever seen. I have watched ICE liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13 & clean out the toughest of situations. They are great!”
Trump’s Stand on Cryptocurrency
President Trump is not generally shy of expressing his views on any issue concerning the U.S. economy. However, he has maintained a deafening silence so far on the topic of the ever-expanding homegrown and global crypto economies.
There were concerns in some circles last year that the government could move ahead with an outright ban on crypto trading. While the Trump administration did not make any official remark to suggest such a drastic step, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders went on record saying that the government was monitoring Bitcoin and other crypto assets.
Fortunately for traders, the prospect of an outright ban has diminished significantly over the past few months as the government now seems more interested in regulating the trading of digital assets. The recent push to categorize Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) as securities is being seen as a move toward that direction.
However, the moot point remains the same — the President is yet to express his views on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.