Reports from Chainalysis and Elliptic point to the trade for fentanyl precursors and fentanyl itself being fueled by crypto.
Law enforcement around the globe has long pointed to China as being a source of deadly fentanyl likewise as the precursors used to manufacture it. New research from both Chainalysis and Elliptic have put a number on how much of this trade is done in crypto.
Elliptic, which published its report on the topic Tuesday, reveals digital currency wallets attached to darknet merchants which sell fentanyl likewise as precursors have received $27 Million in payments (though over exactly what time frame is unclear), while Chainalysis pegged the number at $37.8 Million since 2018.
$27 Million would buy enough precursor to produce fentanyl pills with a street value of approximately $54 billion, Elliptic stated in its report.
The bulk of these transactions, reports by the reports, use USDT or Bitcoin (BTC) – as opposed to privacy coins – making them relatively easy to track on-chain.
Over 90 China-based corporations were identified by Elliptic researchers as willing to supply fentanyl precursors, and 90 percent of them accepted digital currency payments.
Darknet markets ban the outright sale of fentanyl and it’s been illegal to sell in China since 2019, but merchants get around this by using coded language. In the meantime, the fentanyl precursors aren’t regulated in China and there are legitimate uses for them.
The researchers likewise pointed out that India is a growing supplier of precursors.
Both Chainalysis and Elliptic say they are working with law enforcement to identify and interdict the flow of funds in the fentanyl trade.
Fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death for those aged 18-45 in the United States.