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A global drug cartel used Binance to launder millions, according to the DEA. Here’s how the world’s largest crypto exchange would work with investigators to track them down.

  • A global drug cartel allegedly used Binance to launder tens of millions, according to an ongoing DEA investigation.
  • Around $15-40 million in illicit profits could have been funneled through Binance, according to Forbes, which obtained a search warrant.
  • Here’s how the world’s largest crypto exchange would work with investigators.

A global drug cartel used Binance to funnel millions of illicit profits from the gang, according to an ongoing US Drug Enforcement Action investigation.

Between $15 and $40 million was laundered through the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, according to Forbesciting a search warrant she obtained.

Binance, which earlier this year announced plans to buy a minority stake at Forbes, works with investigators to help track down suspects.

The investigation into the cartel’s use of Binance began in 2020, when DEA informants at another crypto trading platform found a user offering cryptocurrency in exchange for fiat currency, reports Forbes.

The DEA found one culprit, Carlos Fong Echavarria, who later pleaded guilty to money laundering and drug trafficking charges. Binance helped the agency by tracking Echavarria’s trading activity on the blockchain, which totaled $4.7 million. By tracking on-chain activity, they were able to identify an additional account receiving funds from Echavarria, as per the warrant.

Another account holder, who has not been formally charged, allegedly purchased nearly $42 million worth of cryptocurrencies, including at least $16 million from drug money.

“This is actually an example of where blockchain transaction transparency works against criminal actors,” Matthew Price, senior director of investigations at Binance, told Forbes. “The bad guys leave a permanent record of what they do.”

Earlier this year, Binance also assisted the DEA in its effort to seize over 100 money laundering accounts in Mexico.

Meanwhile, Binance would face an investigation by the US Department of Justice, according to Reuters, citing four sources familiar with the matter. The report describes the company’s books as akin to a “Black Box,” where even Binance’s former CFO did not have full account access during his nearly three-year tenure.

In a statement to Reuters, Binance’s chief strategy officer said the report’s analysis and descriptions of its business units were “categorically false.”

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