In the wake of ongoing efforts to combat international drug trafficking, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), linked to the United States Department of the Treasury, has issued a renewed warning to North American financial institutions. The statement focuses on vigilance against the illicit use of cryptocurrencies in the trade of fentanyl, a substance that has devastated several communities in the US.

According to the FinCEN document, there is a worrying trend among criminal organizations, especially Mexican cartels, which have adopted cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), monero (XMR) and tether (USDT) to acquire essential chemicals in the manufacture of fentanyl. These transactions often involve payments to Chinese suppliers, who receive the amounts in their digital wallets, sometimes through financial intermediaries.

The increase in the use of digital tokens by cartels reflects an evolution in money laundering techniques and financing illegal operations. “They are increasingly purchasing fentanyl precursor chemicals and manufacturing equipment,” says the statement, highlighting the complex network of transactions that cross borders and jurisdictions.

This practice is not new to the authorities, who had already identified and sanctioned similar activities in previous processes. In October, the US Department of Justice charged eight Chinese entities with operating illegally in the production and distribution of precursor chemicals.

The problem with fentanyl in the United States is serious, being the leading cause of accidental death among adults aged 18 to 45, according to information from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA emphasizes the potency of fentanyl, pointing out that the drug is up to 100 times stronger than morphine.

The fight against fentanyl trafficking and the illicit use of cryptocurrencies is a constant challenge for authorities, who seek to adapt their strategies and tools to better monitor and combat these transnational criminal networks.


The views and opinions expressed by the author, or anyone mentioned in this article, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment or other advice. Investing or trading cryptocurrencies carries a risk of financial loss.


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