The Department of Justice (DOJ) of the United States plans to reinforce its team responsible for investigating cryptocurrency-related crimes with more prosecutors. The unit will also have a new leader, with Claudia Quiroz replacing Eun Young Choi at the helm.
The team has played a major role in many of the DOJ’s crypto cases, such as bringing charges against Bitzlato and the investigation into Binance.
Bringing NCET to ‘the Next Level’
The DOJ disclosed that it will more than double the number of prosecutors working for the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) to prevent future crimes involving digital assets.
The unit will also become a permanent fixture of a section within the department’s criminal division focused on various computer-related probes.
Senior Justice Department official Nicole Argentieri revealed that Claudia Quiroz will serve as the NCET’s new leader, raising hopes that the amendments will bring the team “to the next level.”
“Merging it into [Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section] will give it the resources and runway to accomplish even more,” she added.
The DOJ established the NCET in 2021 amid concerns that criminals, terrorists, and other wrongdoers have employed cryptocurrencies in their illicit activities. The department doubled down on its efforts in September 2022, setting up a unit of federal prosecutors called “The Digital Asset Coordinators Network.”
Interestingly, two months later, the cryptocurrency community witnessed the doom of FTX: seen by many as one of the biggest scams in the history of the industry.
Ari Redbord – a former federal prosecutor who works at blockchain analytics firm TRM Labs – believes the DOJ has realized that “we’ve moved to a digital battlefield, where wars are fought on blockchains.”
“The reality is if this is, in fact, the future, every prosecutor, every investigator, is going to need to understand these cases,” he concluded.
DOJ’s Latest Action on the Crypto Scene
The Department of Justice made the headlines in January this year when it arrested the founder of the crypto exchange Bitzlato – Anatoly Legkodymov. The department claimed the platform had connections with the Dark Web and fueled ransomware attacks.
Some media outlets informed earlier this month that the DOJ had targeted Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) over alleged money-laundering operations. Sources have also claimed that this probe has led to a crisis among the world’s largest cryptocurrency, which had to dismiss multiple employees.
CZ remained unfazed by the speculation, maintaining there was FUD about the departures. He confirmed that some team members have indeed left the firm, but the reasons were not the ones “dreamed up by the “news.”