As if various cases of illegal use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies weren’t already giving enough sleepless nights to the U.S. authorities, they have now discovered that gun smugglers are using Bitcoin in their operations. A 36-year old Bosnian immigrant, Hany Veletanlic, has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison for selling illegally modified guns and gun parts in lieu of Bitcoin. Authorities claim that the smuggler had sold the weapons to extremists in Sweden, thereby, violating the Arms Export Control Act. Veletanlic admitted to his involvement in illegal gun sales since 2017. The authorities also found him with banned items such as silencers.
Law Enforcement Authorities Spooked by Bitcoin’s Misuse for Gun Smuggling
Law enforcement agencies around the world have been alerted by the increased use of cryptocurrencies for terror financing. While the issue of gun smuggling isn’t new, agencies are now eager to find out ways to trace transactions, which would help them identify users and curb such cases.
The U.S. House Financial Services Committee had held discussions earlier this month to address the issue of crypto usage in gun smuggling. The members of the committee also pointed out ties between Bitcoin and terrorist groups like Hamas and neo-Nazis. Lawmakers in other countries have also highlighted this problem and expressed their concern about the same.
Gun Smuggling not the Only Concern for Authorities
While the recent case of gun smuggling via Bitcoin has raised concerns, it is not the only case of crypto misuse in the recent past. The earliest large-scale use of cryptocurrencies can be traced to Silk Road, an online marketplace used mostly for drug sales. It was shut down in 2013. However, many proponents of cryptocurrencies argue that these digital assets are no more likely to be used for illegal operations than fiat currencies or electronic finance.