crypto exchanges

Sanctioned Crypto Exchanges Processed $32 Million In Payment To Fentanyl Merchants

  • Elliptic’s report identified payments to Russian crypto exchange Garantex and an unnamed Australian platform for fentanyl products worth billions in street value.
  • The report estimates that these platforms received roughly $50 million in Bitcoin and Tether’s stablecoin USDT.
  • At least 100 Merchants accept crypto payments for fentanyl ingredients as a means to evade sanctions and export restrictions.

Fentanyl precursor merchants in China are utilizing centralized crypto exchanges in Russia and Australia to accept digital payments in a bid to evade sanctions, a report from blockchain analytics shop Elliptic said.

The study identified two crypto exchanges – U.S.-sanctioned Russian platform Garantex and an unnamed Australian exchange – that have served as payment gateways for merchants in China offering precursor chemicals and pill presses required to produce Fentanyl.

Elliptic’s study on crypto’s use in the fentanyl supply chain comes at a time when the deadly synthetic opioid is causing massive public health issues in the United States, Europe, and the world at large.

Despite China’s fentanyl export restrictions, the study revealed that savvy operators have found ways to smuggle precursor chemicals overseas. Tactics include using disguised packaging, such as dog food or car wash detergent, and leveraging established carriers who may not frequently verify package contents.

Crypto Exchanges Funnel $50 Billion In Street-Valued Fentanyl Ingredients

According to the report, transactions to Bitcoin addresses, and USDT addresses on Tron and Ethereum blockchains were identified. In total, these addresses received $32 million in crypto for fentanyl precursor chemicals.

Elliptic estimates that if all these funds were used to buy fentanyl products, the goods could produce as much as $50 billion in drug proceeds factoring in street value.

The report was released amid a global crackdown on questionable crypto exchanges suspected to be money laundering intermediaries. In January, U.S. authorities sanctioned and shut down an almost unknown Russian exchange called Bizlato on money laundering suspicions. Investigators also linked Bizlato to major exchange Binance.