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Joint US/India operation busts $360 million crypto-funded drugs ring

A collaboration among law enforcement in India and the United States has led to the discovery of a cryptocurrency drug ring worth $360 million.

The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation and India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) teamed up for a search operation in India’s Uttarakhand state back in August 2023. India’s Enforcement Directorate made the arrests after a tip-off from the FBI.

Two suspects flagged by the US authorities were already known to be involved in drug trafficking, with links to a major international drug trafficking operation. The April 27 raid recovered digital currency worth more than $300 million.

The role of crypto in the Indian drug ring scam

Two men, Parvinder Singh and Banmeet Singh from Haldwani, Uttarakhand are said to have used common usernames on dark web marketplaces such as Silk Road 1, AlphaBay, and Hansa.

Those involved in the illicit drug sales are said to have utilized freely available online ads and dark web vendor marketplaces to grow their operation. This led to an organized system of distributors and sales channels, where cryptocurrency was used to pay for the drugs as well as launder the proceeds.

India is an emerging cryptocurrency market where government regulation is still playing catch-up. The investigation in Uttarakhand is only one of many examples of crypto-focused organized crime that is prevalent across the vast Asian country.

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