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by JW August, communications director, BSCC

Trafficking in humans cannot survive if this criminal activity loses the ability to enslave humans and make the money that fuels the effort. Criminal organizations and individual operators both need a supply of victims and the ability to make money. These organizations and individuals have to be able to use and move the funds without law enforcement’s awareness of their activities. Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51) provided this warning, “Transnational and criminal organizations are increasingly using virtual currencies to facility drug and sex trafficking.”

As one of the virtual currencies of concern, Bitcoin can be used for legal purchases, similar to an online version of cash. Although Bitcoin transactions are recorded, nobody knows the users’ account numbers which ensures their anonymity. Congressman Vargas’ bill (H.R. 502) instructs the Comptroller General of the United States to make recommendations to Congress for a legislative game plan to combat this “underground” money pipeline.

This effort would also include a deep dive by the Comptroller General to study how the currencies are being used in the dark Web. Rep. Vargas continued, “The data collected will help Congress have a greater understanding of legislative solutions that prevent criminals from using virtual currency for illicit means.” Both chambers of Congress agree this important work must be accomplished—and have included the bill in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

Marisa Ugarte, the Executive Director of the BSCC, states this legislation is vital to center the fight on the traffickers, “If we can cut off their blood (money) supply, we can cripple their operations for both buyer and trafficker.”