Industry Analysis

Asian crypto routes preferred by money launderers

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has revealed that organized multinational drug dealers are now using Chinese crypto routes to move funds around the world especially to and from Mexico.

Paul Knierim, the deputy chief of operations at DEA’s office of global enforcement, said that:

The shift towards Chinese and Asian money launderers is believed to be, in part, due to the natural relationship created by the large volume of both licit and illicit trade goods and chemicals imported from China. The use of an Asian money broker simplifies the money laundering process and streamlines the purchase of precursor chemicals and paraphernalia utilized in manufacturing drugs for street sales.

The DEA has also noted that, although the usage of crypto routes to transfer drug money used to be a ‘tiny’ percentage, the percentage has started rising as the Chinese transnational criminal organization shifted to crypto routes to launder money.

According to the DEA, the amount of illicit money seized in the United States has been on the decline since 2010 signifying that money launderers are turning to ‘more discrete methods’ which includes the use of virtual currencies.

For the Drug Enforcement Agency, the crypto routes often involve Bitcoin since it:

Is the most common form of payment for drug sales on darknet marketplaces and is emerging as a desirable method to transfer illicit drug proceeds internationally.

The usage of Chinese crypto routes is also attracting the attention of the Chinese Underground Banking System (CUBS) which uses cash brokers to evade capital controls imposed by China. The capital controls dictate that a Chinese citizen cannot send more than fifty thousand U.S dollars outside China within a period of 12 months.

With privacy-focused digital coins like Monero, do you think drug dealers will continue to use crypto routes to move illicit money around the world?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


Philip is an experienced blogger keen on staying updated with trends and news surrounding the blockchain and Bitcoin space. With several years of freelance experience in various industries, Philip brings his knowledge and experience into the crypto space.

Leave a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *