Arrests made over Bitcoin laundering scheme, Dark Web drug deals

Dutch police have arrested 10 people suspected of using the virtual currency to launder up to $22 million in criminal profits.

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Dutch police have arrested 10 men believed to have used Bitcoin to launder proceeds from criminal sales in the Dark Web.

According to local media, the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service and public prosecution department raided 15 addresses across the country -- including homes in Rotterdam, Dordrecht, The Hague and Putten -- resulting in the arrest of 10 men in their early 20's.

Police seized cash, luxury cars and chemicals used to make the drug ecstasy after being tipped off by banks concerning large cash deposits which were then quickly withdrawn via ATMs.

The men, some hailing from Lithuania and Morocco, are believed to operate in the Dark Web, an unindexed portion of the Internet which hosts underground markets. The Dark Web can be used to buy illegal items and services, including drugs, weaponry, counterfeit documents and stolen information.

See also: 10 things you didn't know about the Dark Web

The Dark Web relies on virtual currency including Bitcoin to help mask transactions and keep both buyers and sellers anonymous -- at least, as much as possible. Virtual currency tumblers can also be found in this hidden part of the Internet to help launder illegal profits.

Reuters reports that the suspects allegedly laundered up to 20 million euros ($22 million) made from online drug deals.

According to the publication, some of the men arrested are traders, while others are "Bitcoin cashers" -- traders of Bitcoin online who cash these funds then withdraw money from ATMs. It is possible to find cashers online who run shadow services which exchange "dirty" coins for clean currency.

Law enforcement in the United States, Australia, Lithuania and Morocco also participated in the raid.

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