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US DEA: Criminal Activity in Cryptocurrency Has Dropped 80 Percent Since 2013

An agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has noted that Bitcoin’s (BTC) role in crimes has dropped to just 10 percent of transactions, while transactions themselves have “grown tremendously,” Bloomberg reports August 7.

In an interview, DEA special agent Lilita Infante — who is a member of the 10-person Cyber Investigative Task Force — said that the ratio of legitimate to illegitimate Bitcoin transactions had flipped over the past five years, noting

“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 concept of criminals turning to cryptocurrency as an alternative to cash has traditionally formed a central argument used by those critical of Bitcoin’s future.

Regulators too have set about tackling the perceived usage of cryptocurrency for illicit purposes, often associated with terrorism and money laundering.

As Bitcoin’s popularity has grown, however, it is now legitimate trading which forms the overwhelming majority of activity, with Infante noting that the “majority of transactions are used for price speculation.”

She added that although privacy-focused altcoins are less liquid and more anonymous than BTC, the DEA “still has ways of tracking” currencies such as Monero and Zcash. Infante concluded,

“The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people. I actually want them to keep using them [cryptocurrencies].’’

At a U.S. House public meeting on digital assets in mid-July, Andreessen Horowitz managing partner Scott Kupor suggested that “Bitcoin is law enforcement’s best friend” due to the ability to track illicit transactions on the blockchain.

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