US: DOJ charges Ohio man with laundering over $300 million via bitcoin

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Larry Dean Harmon of Akron has been charged by the federal authorities for operating a cryptocurrency laundering service that moved about $300 million in bitcoin via a tumbling operation. Harmon was indicted of exchanging more than 350,000 BTC on Helix between 2014 and 2017. Chief of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Don Fort stated that the sole purpose o Harmon’s operation was to conceal criminal transactions from law enforcement on the Darknet but he could not succeed because of the authorities growing expertise in this area. Bitcoin tumbling which is also known as mixing allows owners to blend their cryptocurrency transactions to obscure them from oversight, often used to hide illegal activity such as selling drugs.

Harmon is charged with money laundering, conspiracy, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and conducting money transmission without a DC license. Cryptocurrency exchanges which have become a popular medium of laundering drug money now require disclosures that make operations like Helix less common. In 2018, over 40 alleged dark-web drug dealers were arrested as part of a federal sting effort targeting darknet vendors. By offering cash or bitcoin, Homeland Security agents traced more than $20 million in drug-linked cryptocurrency transactions to individual dealers.