Wagner and Vargas Introduce Important Legislation to Combat Sex and Drug Trafficking
WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Ann Wagner (MO-02) and Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51) introduced the Fight Illicit Networks and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act of 2019 (H.R. 502). This bipartisan bill would require the Comptroller General of the United States to study how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex or drug trafficking and propose regulatory and legislative actions to put an end to these illicit activities. Through the Comptroller General’s findings and proposals, Congress would craft legislative solutions to regulate the use of virtual currencies to prevent crimes such as sex trafficking and illegal drug sales.
“Human traffickers have latched on to virtual currencies to avoid detection and prosecution,” said Rep. Ann Wagner. “The despicable use of virtual currencies is creating an unprecedented challenge for financial regulators, and this legislation gives us much-needed information to root out the traffickers who are anonymously transferring money and hiding their crimes from the public eye.”
“The anonymity behind virtual currencies has made them a preferred payment method to carry out harmful and illegal activities,” said Rep. Juan Vargas. “Congress must understand the full extent of how virtual currencies are being used to facilitate drug and sex trafficking and propose legislative solutions to fight these crimes.”
Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, Dash, Zcash, Monero, and others are intended to be used for legal purchases. However, the appeal of anonymity associated with virtual currencies has led them to become a preferred financial payment method for illicit activities. Virtual currencies have become a prominent method to pay for goods and services associated with illegal sex and drug trafficking, which are two of the most detrimental and troubling illegal activities facilitated by online marketplaces and the dark web.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2017 National Drug Assessment, transnational criminal organizations are increasingly using virtual currencies for illicit activities, including drug trafficking. Reports also indicate that virtual currencies are being used to run illegal online marketplaces to sell drugs, including opioid fentanyl, and contributing to our country’s opioid crisis.
While evidence points to the growth of virtual currencies as a payment method for illicit sex and drug trafficking, the true scope of the problem and potential solutions have not been fully established. H.R. 502 would study and analyze how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex and drug trafficking to determine how to fight these illicit and harmful activities.