A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent says that criminal activity related to Bitcoin has dropped to just 10% of transactions, even as cryptocurrency transactions have grown.
Special agent Lilita Infante, part of the 10-person Cyber Investigative Task Force, said: “The volume has grown tremendously, the amount of transactions and the dollar value has grown tremendously over the years in criminal activity, but the ratio has decreased.”
The idea that cryptocurrency is good for business for criminals has always been a central argument of people who are critical of cryptocurrency. Most of the arguments against digital currencies revolve around money laundering, terrorism, and drugs.
However, as Bitcoin grew in popularity, most activity is legitimate trading and not illicit activities. Infante noted that the “majority of transactions are used for price speculation.”
While privacy-focused altcoins such as Monero do offer a level of anonymity much greater than Bitcoin (BTC) (and this feature is arguably highly attractive to criminals), the DEA is still able to track and monitor these currencies to identify illegal activity.
Infante added, “The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. I actually want them to keep using them [cryptocurrencies].’’
It is the ability to track illegal activity on the blockchain that makes it easy for police to catch criminals. In mid-july, speaking at a US House public meeting on digital assets, Scott Kupor, managing partner at Andreessen Horowitz, suggested that “Bitcoin is law enforcement’s best friend” because of the tracking ability.