House Passes Rep. Axne's Bill to Combat Drug and Sex Trafficking

January 29, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fight Illicit Networks and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03). Evidence suggests that virtual currencies have become a prominent method to facilitate illegal drug and sex trafficking. However, the full scope of the problem remains unknown. The bipartisan FIND Trafficking Act would help Congress better understand how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate drug and sex trafficking to determine how to prevent these illicit and harmful crimes.

“The anonymity of virtual currency has created unprecedented challenges in finding and bringing to justice perpetrators of these despicable crimes,” said Rep. Axne. “This legislation will allow Congress to better understand how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate drug and sex trafficking in order to take effective steps to prevent these illicit activities.”

The bipartisan bill would require the Comptroller General of the United States to study how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate drug or sex 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.

Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, Dash, Zcash, Monero, and others are intended to be used for legal purchases. Evidence suggests that the anonymity of virtual currencies has led them to become a preferred financial payment method for illicit activities. However, the full scope of the problem remains unknown.

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.

Photo Credits: Jennifer Post/Thompson Coburn LLP