5k Bitcoin ATMs worldwide allow money laundering for drug trafficking

The Spanish authorities have stated that the legislation currently in existence in the European community is inadequate and insufficient to prevent the use of Bitcoin ATMs in order to launder money, as mentioned by digital forensics specialists.

Various media report that the Spanish government has reached this conclusion after investigating the legal status of cryptocurrency ATMs that, at the moment, are not subject to compliance with strict anti-money laundering laws in the Union European.

Just a couple of months ago, Spanish authorities dismantled a criminal group that employed a couple of Bitcoin ATMs to launder the profits of a group of drug traffickers. During this money laundering operation more than €9M were processed, mention specialists in digital forensics.

The group of drug traffickers agreed with the operating company to install two of these machines in the Madrid area; operators advertised these ATMs as devices that anyone could use for buying and selling virtual assets like Bitcoin.

The smugglers used fake identities to register the installation of the machines and then make cash withdrawals from multiple bank accounts and send it to various cryptocurrency exchange platforms, thus not would raise suspicions when making large money transactions. Virtual assets obtained by criminals were sent to drug cartels in Latin America. As a result of this operation, Spanish police seized the Bitcoin ATMs as well as some online wallet addresses.

According to digital forensics experts from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS), Europol, the European law enforcement agency collaborated extensively with the Spanish authorities, streamlining the gathering and exchanging information between European law enforcement agencies.

In previous times, Europol’s role has been instrumental in combating cybercrime in the European community. A few months ago, the agency’s work tracked and dismantled a cyberattack services for-hire services, shutting down multiple websites that offered services such as spam campaigns or denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) against other web platforms.