Authorities have apprehended Alexander Vinnik, a Russian man accused of heading a bitcoin laundering operation linked to popular exchange BTC-e. Vinnik was brought into custody under orders from the US Department of Justice.
Vinnik Closely Linked to BTC-e
A Reuters report has confirmed the identity of the detained Russian as that of Alexander Vinnik, who, according to their sources, is a leading figure within the ranks of BTC-e.
Vinnik was arrested in Greece, with the local police calling him an “internationally sought ‘mastermind’” in a statement verifying his arrest.
Since 2011 — the same year BTC-e was founded — Vinnik has allegedly been running a criminal organization that administers one of the “most important websites of electronic crime in the world.”
Additionally, police have also stated that $4 billion USD has been laundered since 2011, with 7 million BTC deposited and 5.5 million in withdrawals being performed.
The US Leading a Charge Against Illegal Bitcoin Activity
The arrest of Vinnik is just the most recent operation U.S. authorities have conducted related to illegal activities being facilitated via bitcoin.
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department moved to shut down the dark web marketplaces, Alphabay and Hansa — two of the most popular dark web sites.
These actions possibly led to Bitmixer preemptively shutting down its own operations, with the law enforcement efforts seeming to spook them into the decision.
Furthermore, the closure of these two dark web marketplaces also led to the suicide death of Alexander Cazes, Alphabay’s alleged administrator.
These recent successes seem to suggest that global authorities efforts to rein in black market activities on the internet are improving despite the use of bitcoin — which many still erroneously perceive as an “anonymous” currency.
What do you think of Vinnik’s arrest? What do you think of his connections to BTC-e? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via BTC-e, Reuters