Bloomberg reports today another two arrests of individuals accused of money laundering using bitcoins and engagement in unlicensed money operations.
According to filings with the Miami Dade Office of the State Attorney, Pascal Reid, 29, and Michel Abner Espinoza, 30 were arrested in what may be the first State charges of money laundering involving bitcoins. Last month, Charlie Shrem and Robert Faiella were arrested on similar charges. Faiella was arrested in Florida as well but is facing federal charges from the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Undercover police officers in Miami had been seeking out “individuals engaged in high volume Bitcoin activity”. It remains to be clarified exactly what end products or services the coin was laundered for.
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The Office of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle commented, “Bitcoins are neither good nor bad. Buying Bitcoins allows money to be anonymously moved around the world with a click of a computer mouse. Improperly used, Bitcoins are often seen as a perfect means of laundering dirty money or for buying and selling illegal goods, such as drugs or stolen credit card information.”
Though bitcoins seem to offer criminals the anonymity they seek when conducting their activities, the spate of arrests over the past few months has proven that anything digital can be tracked and prosecuted if specially monitored. This was pointed out during last month’s digital currency hearings in New York when the notions of crime prevention were being debated. Right now, only physical cash or in-person barter transactions serve as genuine tools for completely anonymous underground commerce.
The arrests are likely not having any meaningful effect on Bitcoin markets, where the loud racket emanating from atop MtGox is drowning out any noise resulting from these relatively low profile arrests. Even after the previous arrests, markets quickly regained their composure after an initial shock.