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Traffickers in Jamaica turning to Bitcoin

Jamaica Gleaner

Traffickers in Jamaica turning to Bitcoin

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The Jamaican police is refining strategy to hit human traffickers “in the pocketbook”, says Deputy Superintendent of Police Carl Berry, even as the perpetrators are increasingly burrowing underground by switching to cryptocurrencies to hide their transactions.

Berry told bankers that Jamaica is having conversations with global law-enforcement partners on how to follow the money trail.

The policeman, who was speaking at the two-day Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism Conference in New Kingston, told bankers that the illicit proceeds were finding their way into the formal system and urged bankers to collaborate with law enforcement on efforts to track the money trail.

But he also said that an emergent challenge occurring outside the banking system was that traffickers are increasingly doing business with cryptocurrencies. That’s happening alongside another looming problem ­ the use of the ‘dark web’ for transactions, which disguised the identify of those buying the services of the enslaved.

“They are asking for payment in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, a new factor which creates problems for law enforcers,” said the deputy superintendent. Typically, bitcoin transactions mask the identity of persons trading the cryptocurrency. But Berry said the Jamaica Constabulary Force has “crafted a plan to treat with the flow of illicit money”.

“We will hit them in the pocketbook,” he said.

Jamaica was successful in exiting an international watch list for human trafficking after securing four convictions and rescuing more than 70 victims. But Berry cautioned that there was a lot more work to do. (adapted from the Jamaica Gleaner)