Mexican cartels turn to bitcoin, internet and e-commerce

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Drug cartels in Mexico are increasingly turning to the internet, bitcoin and e-commerce to launder money and sell drugs, according to a report released Thursday by the Office of United Nations on Drugs and Crime.

The International Narcotics Control Board report said on Thursday that the Jalisco Next Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel are increasingly using small online purchases of bitcoins to avoid money laundering checks.

The report indicates that Mexican cartels launder approximately $25 billion a year in Mexico.

After dividing the drug proceeds into small payments to avoid checks, the cartels “then use these accounts to purchase a series of small amounts of bitcoin online, obscuring the origin of the money and allowing them to pay associates elsewhere in the world”.

The report states that “Mexican and Colombian organized crime groups are increasing their use of virtual currency due to the anonymity and speed of transactions.”

The report also states that “online sellers…have a significant impact” on the sale of drugs. Websites often advertise fentanyl-containing pills as Xanax, Adderall or Oxycodone, and Control Board member Raúl Martin del Campo said “the majority of people don’t know they’re using fentanyl.”

Del Campo also said drug cartels are also reviving old recipes for synthetic narcotics that have fallen into disuse due to their side effects.

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