A blockchain analytics firm called Chainalysis estimated on Wednesday that suspected producers of the lethal drug fentanyl, largely located in China, have collected some $38 million in payments using cryptocurrency since 2018.
The Chainalysis report, entitled “Crypto and the Opioid Crisis: What Blockchain Analysis Reveals About Global Fentanyl Sales,” noted that China “has been home to the largest chemical industry by revenue in the world since 2011” and was cited by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as the largest producer of precursor chemicals for fentanyl in 2019.
India is another “heavy producer” of fentanyl precursors, and Chainalysis acknowledged that some of this chemical production is sold to entirely legitimate pharmaceutical enterprises, but the DEA has grown adept at spotting patterns of shipments to drug traffickers.
“The DEA has noted a pattern of fentanyl production in which precursor chemicals are illegally shipped to Latin America, where they are used to manufacture fentanyl, which is then transported into the U.S. to be sold,” the report said.
With this in mind, Chainalysis tracked down cryptocurrency addresses linked to suspected Chinese manufacturers of fentanyl precursor chemicals and found $37.8 million worth of crypto flowing to them, largely emanating from Latin America, North America, Europe, and Asia.
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