An international drug cartel used cryptocurrency Tether to bribe public officials in Virginia, the U.S. Department of Justice has revealed. The DoJ also revealed some of the suspects’ intricate methods to distribute drugs and launder money for over a decade.
Court documents unsealed by the DoJ revealed charges related to drug smuggling, money laundering, identity theft, and more brought against six individuals. The DoJ alleged that the six are part of an extensive crime ring operating in the U.S., Mexico, China, Belize, and Guatemala that launders money derived from the sale of illegal drugs.
The criminals allegedly bribed an official using Tether.
The criminals allegedly used Tether digital currency to bribe a U.S. government official. According to the court documents, the crime ring was busted by U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s undercover agents who posed as corrupt government officials. In June, one of the accused men, Tao Liu, allegedly paid the DEA agent $1,000 in Tether as a bribe to secure a fraudulent U.S. passport. Days later, he allegedly paid the agent an additional $4,000 in USDT and then followed this up with two bank transfers worth $3,000 and $2,000, authorities said.
The six criminals are also charged with money laundering.
The six criminals, who were born in China but reside in the U.S., Belize, Hong Kong and Mexico, are also charged with importing and distributing cocaine in the U.S., money laundering, attempted identity fraud, bribing a government official, and conspiring to launder money. If convicted of their alleged crimes, the DoJ is seeking the forfeiture of at least $30 million, “representing proceeds the defendants obtained in the course of the drug conspiracies and property involved in the money laundering conspiracy.” The Department of Justice further wants Tao Liu to forfeit $5,000 in USDT traced to his bribery charges.