NCB, CBIC unearth ₹2.2 crore crypto payments linked to drug trafficking

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BENGALURU: The Narcotics Control Bureau and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) have unearthed crypto payments worth nearly 2.2 crore in 11 cases linked to drug trafficking, the government informed the Parliament on Monday.

The Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs had in December flagged concerns over the increasing use of digital currencies and darknet by drug traffickers. It had recommended setting up a a cyber-wing under the Narcotics Control Bureau.

Minister of state for finance Pankaj Choudhary informed Lok Sabha that the Centre has taken a slew of measures to increase enforcement, including setting up of e-surveillance and monitoring systems, coordination with foreign drug enforcement agencies, and hiring of technical experts to assist in intelligence collection and investigation. The government has been training field officers on cyber and forensic technologies, and on collection of evidence through electronic means besides regular liasioning with technical experts.

The Centre has been providing assistance to states for procuring of equipment including electronic surveillance systems, Choudhary said in response to a question.

Darknet is an overlay network within the internet that is inaccessible to conventional search engines and requires special browsers to be accessed. It is often used for pornography and illicit trade, as users are largely untraceable. The government is yet to come out with a legislation on regulation on cryptocurrencies and virtual assets. The ministry of finance is working on a consultation paper and will release it within the next six months.

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