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Crypto-Savvy Drug Cartels Pose New National Security Risks, Says US Congressman

A US Congressman says that drug cartels have ramped up the use of cryptocurrencies and crypto wallets to mask their illicit activities, presenting a new security threat.

In a new blog post on The Hill, Republican Tony Gonzales of Texas’s 23rd district says that the US government is currently facing threats from cybercriminals on multiple fronts.

 

“As we have seen this year, the frequency of ransomware attacks and other cybercrime continues to skyrocket and cryptocurrencies have emerged as a critical weapon for both nation-state adversaries and cybercriminals.

To protect not only the people of Texas’s 23rd but all of our citizens, the US government must win the technological fight against the cartels. The battle has only begun.”

Gonzales says that untraceable cryptocurrencies make it cheaper and more convenient for cartels to launder money, negating the need for vehicle transports, couriers, drones, wire transfers, and small aircraft.

“Compared to the investment required to purchase the equipment and labor to move money through [more] traditional methods, cryptocurrencies are a cheap way to launder their ill-gotten gains.”

Citing the FBI’s recent recovery of 63.7 Bitcoin paid by the Colonial Pipeline Company during a ransomware attack, Gonzales says that a coalition of federal law enforcement agencies are bolstering their efforts to combat online crypto crimes.

“One underappreciated agency that is positioning itself for this fight is the U.S. Secret Service (USSS). Known to the public for protecting the president, the USSS’s original mission was in protecting U.S. currency by fighting counterfeiters.

These days, Secret Service investigates different threats to the dollar, including through computer system hacks and digital currency crimes. Along with the USSS, the FBI, IRS, and Homeland Security Investigations also investigate crypto crimes — underscoring the critical need of the whole government to meet this threat head-on.”

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