Helix operator admits he laundered more than $300 million for drug traffickers and other criminals.
The operator of darknet-based cryptocurrency mixing service Helix has pleaded guilty to money laundering charges that could see him jailed for 20 years.
“Harmon admitted that he conspired with Darknet vendors to launder bitcoin generated through drug trafficking and other illegal activities,” said Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington, D.C. field office.
In addition to prison, the feds also seized 4,400 bitcoins worth some $200 million and other property. IThe money laundering conspiracy charges also come with a fine of $500,000 or up to “twice the value of the property involved in the transaction,” the release said. Harmon helped launder bitcoins then worth more than $300 million, so that fine could be substantial.
While trumpeting its ongoing war on Darknet criminal markets, the Department of Justice (DoJ) also pointed to its focus on identifying and stopping “those who use the Darknet to facilitate and obscure their criminal conduct,” according to Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr.
“[T]hese marketplaces thrive in large measure because of the infrastructure that supports them. Harmon profited by facilitating the back-channel support of these marketplaces and helped criminals launder money they received via illicit activities,” IRS Criminal Investigations division Chief James Lee pointed out.
Pointing to “technologies like Helix, Philips promised that the DoJ would “dismantle the infrastructure such criminal marketplaces depend on, and prosecute and convict those responsible.”
Are Mixing Services Under Siege?
Harmon is not the only mixing service operator arrested by the Justice Department on money laundering charges.
Chervinsky, a well-known crypto legal commentator and DeFi chair of the Blockchain Association, said that the then-allegations that Harmon “was directly involved in criminal activity & intended to launder the proceeds of crime... makes it a tough case.”
But, he added, in his opinion the “DoJ is going too far by charging unlicensed money transmission offenses.”