Reports: China-based Chemical Firms Earn Millions in Cryptocurrency Supplying Fentanyl Substances to Drug Cartels

Cryptocurrency is now being used to facilitate the purchase of fentanyl ingredients from Chinese chemical producers, enabling the mass-production of the deadly opioid in countries around the world.

London-based blockchain analytics firm, Elliptic, has identified over 90 China-based chemicals firms that are willing to sell fentanyl precursors. Elliptic’s report indicates that suppliers predominantly accept Bitcoin as the most widely used cryptocurrency token, with Tether (USDT) following closely behind. The report sheds light on the criminal use of digital assets in China, despite Beijing’s ban, revealing that Chinese chemicals companies suspected of supplying base substances for producing fentanyl to overseas drug cartels have earned tens of millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies.

Some Reports Revealed on Chinese Chemicals

In a report published on Wednesday, London-based blockchain analytics firm Elliptic revealed that it had identified over 90 China-based chemicals companies that were willing to sell fentanyl precursors and accept cryptocurrencies as a payment method.

Elliptic’s report reveals that the cryptocurrency wallets associated with these companies received over US$27 million in payments. The report emphasizes that Bitcoin is the most widely accepted cryptocurrency token among these suppliers, followed by Tether (USDT).

According to a separate report by Chainalysis, published on Wednesday as well, crypto addresses linked to China-based sellers of precursor chemicals used in the production of fentanyl have received over US$37.8 million worth of cryptocurrency since 2018. Fentanyl, a potent narcotic, has contributed to a significant opioid crisis in the United States.

Acquisition of Biometric Data for Accessing Worldcoin by Chinese Internet Users

The findings indicate that despite the comprehensive ban on cryptocurrency transactions imposed by the Chinese government, certain individuals in the country are managing to acquire and utilize digital assets, often through illicit means that extend beyond China’s borders.

Chinese internet users reportedly acquired biometric data from Cambodia and African countries to access and utilize Worldcoin. Sam Altman, the founder of OpenAI, launched Worldcoin, a cryptocurrency project known for its development of the widely-used chatbot ChatGPT. It is worth noting that Worldcoin is not accessible in China.

Worldcoin acknowledged and confirmed the incidents mentioned in The Block’s report, specifying that they were limited to “a few hundred instances.”

China Highlights Efforts to Assist US in Addressing Opioid Crisis

The collapse of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, last year provided insights into crypto usage in China. According to a bankruptcy filing by FTX in November, mainland users constituted 8 percent of the exchange’s customer base.

The US Treasury’s OFAC imposed sanctions on two Chinese companies as part of related actions. Accused of supplying precursor chemicals, these companies allegedly aided Mexican drug cartels in producing fentanyl for the US.

According to the OFAC, both companies implicated in the supply of fentanyl precursors accepted Bitcoin as a form of payment.

Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, argued that the alleged fentanyl precursors are ordinary chemicals. According to Xinhua, he explicitly stated that the US bears responsibility for the opioid crisis. Wang emphasized China’s efforts to assist the US in addressing the issue, showing a spirit of humanitarianism.

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