Brazilian Federal Police has arrested 12 suspects connected to a gang that allegedly used Bitcoin to launder millions of dollars earned smuggling cocaine into Europe, Africa and Asia.
According to Folha de S.Paulo, the drug dealers was busted in an operation dubbed “Antigoon,” in cooperation with the country’s Department of Federal Revenue. Over 100 federal agents executed 15 arrest warrants and 21 search warrants in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Espírito Santo.
The operation followed a near year-long investigation that saw federal authorities seize over four tons of cocaine from ports around Brazil. The seized drugs, per Folha de S.Paulo, were doing to be shipped to Europe, Africa and Asia, and came from Colombia and Bolivia. The CCN reported.
Brazil itself was used as “shipping corridor,” through which “millions and millions of dollars” worth of cocaine traveled as they ultimately made their way into destination markets. Per Federal Police delegate Carlos Eduardo Thomé, the gang received part of its payments in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to evade control instruments.
“The drug dealers received part of its payments in virtual currencies to make them difficult to track, and to avoid getting their massive and atypical money movements detected.” Carlos Eduardo Thomé said.
How much cash drug dealers made or moved isn’t clear, as the Brazilian Federal Police refused to reveal that information. Among those detained were businessmen, airport employees, and even truckers.
Osvaldo Scalezi, a Federal Police delegate, revealed the gang is connected to South American drug cartels who will “be a part of other investigations.” Seizures also occurred in Belgium, Italy, and Spain, he added. According to detectives, the gang set up fake companies in order to ship the cocaine it had, or hijacked third-party containers to do so.