According to El Español, officers who patrol the Strait of Gibraltar – the waters that wash Morocco, Spain, and Gibraltar – have spent almost USD 115,000 on two blockchain analysis solutions. They think these tools will allow them to trace cryptoassets they say are being used to fund drug deals.
The police claim that criminals are using crypto in an attempt to anonymize transactions or make them harder to trace.
Police expenditure records show that officers consider that the solutions will help detectives who are “analyzing electronic evidence related to criminal acts.”
The Ministry of the Interior, meanwhile, says that it believes that it is “necessary” to “continuously update” the police’s technological systems – a hint perhaps that the police might look to spend more on crypto monitoring tools in the future.
Last month, a major police operation busted two crime rings that had smuggled tons of marijuana and cocaine across the Strait – covering their tracks by hiding shipments in crates of tomatoes, watermelons, and melons.
AP, via ABC News, reported that the police found evidence that gangs have “paid off” corrupt “police and customs officers” to allow the shipments to enter Spain. Over 60 individuals, including several police officials, were arrested in 34 raids.
Officers say that some of the payments made to corrupt officials may have been made in crypto, or that money laundered through crypto transactions was then later used to pay for bribes. The police also added that it was still “looking for new tools” that officers could use to “trace” transactions linked to drug deals.
Another drug cartel – which was raided in February this year – was found to have been attempting to use crypto to launder money it had raised from narcotics deals.
But officers have found themselves struggling to trace crypto-related drug deals and – crucially – prove that suspicious-looking crypto wallets actually do belong to narcotics traders.
One police unit lamented that it was “practically impossible to produce high-quality reports” without the kind of solutions that the force has just spent USD 115,000 on.
Law enforcement agencies have also indicated that they will look to train their officers in crypto-related matters. They were quoted as stating that officers needed to possess “advanced knowledge of the way cryptocurrencies are used in money-laundering processes.”
Officers will also be instructed on how to “recover and manage” crypto used in crime – and that the police will back government “regulations that promote transparency” in the crypto industry.