A man from Ohio who ran a cryptocurrency laundering company has pleaded guilty in federal court to money laundering conspiracy.
Larry Dean Harmon, 38 years old, from Akron, Ohio, confessed Tuesday to operating ‘Helix,’ which is a Darknet Bitcoin mixer. Harmon also pleaded guilty to the charges and agreed to forfeit over 4,400 bitcoin, which is worth more than $200,000,000 at Wednesday’s market price.
Harmon could face a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of the property in the scheme, and a term of supervised freedom of no more than three years. Harmon also faces mandatory restitution.
Customers who purchased ‘Helix’ between 2014 and 2017 were permitted to send bitcoin to individuals in a manner that concealed the’source or ‘owner of the bitcoin.
Harmon also operated ‘Grams’, a Darknet search engine that customers used to conceal their transactions from law enforcement. Helix promoted ‘Grams’ to both new and old users.
Harmon disclosed that he had worked with many Darknet markets, including AlphaBay and Evolution, Cloud 9 and other companies to provide customers with bitcoin money-laundering services. Helix processed over 350,000 bitcoin for customers, which was worth more than $300 million at the time. Darknet markets accounted for the majority of bitcoins.
Harmon also stated that he collaborated with Darknet service administrators and Darknet operators to launder bitcoins derived from drug-trafficking crimes.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. stated that Harmon was being held accountable. This has prevented illegal money laundering by these criminal enterprises. Polite Jr., of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division released a press release.
Polite stated that the Justice Department will continue to work with law enforcement and regulatory partners to pursue enforcement actions to identify those who use illicit means to gain financial gain and those who use Darknet to conceal their criminal activities.
In a press release, Acting U.S. attorney Channing D. Philips for the District of Columbia stated that “Darknet markets” and dealers selling opioids and other illegal drugs are a growing problem.
They may hide their identities or launder millions of dollars through Helix technologies. Phillips said that the department and its law enforcement partners would shine a light upon their activities, dismantle any infrastructure these criminal markets depend on, and prosecute those responsible.
At this time, no trial date has been set.