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Homeland Security Uses ICE’s Crypto Intelligence Program For Digital Asset Investigat

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The Cryptocurrency Intelligence Program (CIP), recently disclosed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is deployed for every Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) crypto case.

Al Giangregorio, the HSI’s National Bulk Cash Smuggling Center (BCSC) unit chief has said in an email the intel program was mentioned for the first time in the ICE’s most recent FY budget proposal for 2021. No other explanations about CIP were given. Here is what Giangregorio said, though:

“THE CIP SUPPORTS ANY HSI INVESTIGATION INVOLVING VIRTUAL CURRENCY OR BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY. THE PROGRAM HAS ASSISTED DIVERSE INVESTIGATIONS, INCLUDING THOSE INVOLVING METHAMPHETAMINE AND MDMA DEALERS, HUMAN TRAFFICKING, ELDER FRAUD, DARK NET MARKET DRUG VENDORS, CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION SITES, AND, OF COURSE, TRAFFICKING IN OPIOIDS.”
Cryptocurrency Wasn’t a Threat When BCSC Incorporated

The BCSC is the agency that established CIP. The 2001 PATRIOT act and the BCSC help agents working for ICE’s HSI to track down financial criminals and cash smugglers. Back in 2009, when BCSC incorporated, cryptocurrency wasn’t a threat, but it grew more and more into a vehicle for illegal activities, so federal law enforcement agencies decided to invest more in crypto investigation tools. Giangregorio said,

“OVER TIME, THE BCSC HAS RECOGNIZED THAT TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINAL ORGANIZATIONS HAVE EVOLVED AND DIVERSIFIED THE WAY THEY TRANSFER ILLICIT PROCEEDS. THE BCSC ESTABLISHED THE CIP TO ADAPT TO CHANGING METHODOLOGIES AND TECHNOLOGY TO TARGET MONEY LAUNDERING RELATED TO ALL TYPES OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY.”
HSI’s Anti-Cash Smuggling Experts Have an In-House Program

According to Giangregorio, the transition to digital money has prompted the experts working for HSI’s anti-cash smuggling division to build an in-house program. This and the ICE’s FY budget proposal for 2021 may indicate how CIP got to be created. In the budget proposal, CIP is described as an unlicensed money services identifier for businesses conducting illegal crypto broker hotspots, for darknet markets, peer-to-peer sites and so on.

The cost of establishing and running CIP hasn’t been made public yet, but there are documents attesting that about $2.6 million were spent by the agency on contracts with Chainalysis, from 2017 to 2019.
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