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The Albanian mafia in the UK is now leveraging cryptocurrencies for the criminal purpose of a money laundering operation, which has forced Britain’s police to look for new ways to deal with them.
The Albanian gang possesses the lion’s share in the UK’s cocaine market which is currently valued at £5bn ($6.23bn) annually. According to Britain’s leading organized crime officer, Peter Goodman, the Albanian criminal network has been growing significantly sophisticated and begun to use digital currencies like Bitcoin(BTC)trade to launder money.
Moreover, they have started using social media to show off the riches and for recruiting new members. Some jailed gang members even posted pictures and videos from inside their cells.
Goodman, who is part of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) in Derbyshire, said:
“They are increasingly organized and spreading out from London. They are increasingly sophisticated in terms of how they are cashing out [from their drugs operations].”
After Albanian gangs, Balkan gangs have now started leveraging cryptocurrencies as well by conducting untraceable transactions and selling illicit substances. According to Goodman, the intelligence of using cryptocurrencies is growing among these gangs which help them to stay a step ahead of authorities and it’s making life harder for the police. With the increased use of technology by organized crime groups, police authorities must find a different way to cope with these gangs, he added.
Criminals Use Crypto for Money Laundering
When it comes to money laundering, cryptocurrencies could be a potential vulnerability, and organized crime organizations are well aware of it, establishing the complex connection between various digital assets and criminal enterprises. Criminals are also well aware of improper regulations, which led them to take full advantage of crypto while conducting illegal transactions. The anonymity of cryptocurrencies has also made them eager to explore other technologies that might help them to remain untraceable.
According to Michael J Oghia, a Balkans-based internet governance consultant, aside from being highly beneficial, cryptocurrencies can be used by criminals for various illicit purposes.
“In the case of cryptocurrencies, they are simply an extension of the ongoing struggle between bad actors and cybersecurity and security authorities that are working to counter online threats,” Oghia tells ZDNet.
Oghia explained that maximized privacy, security, decentralization mechanism, and anonymity are the core components of cryptocurrencies for money laundering. Surprisingly, it is not impossible to trace a crypto transaction and law enforcement agencies are working tirelessly to develop their forensic accounting skills.
“As technology is evolving, so are the ways how transactions can be tracked. For instance, all transactions are recorded on the publicly accessible blockchain ledger,” Oghia explains. “By combining those transaction details with other information and analytical techniques, law-enforcement agencies and cybersecurity experts are finding ways to trace such actors – though it’s still a slow process.”