Crypto Used to Buy Dangerous Fentanyl Precursors in China

24. May 2023 0 Comments

• Blockchain analytics startup Elliptic has discovered that Chinese companies selling fentanyl precursors largely accept payments in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Tether (USDT).
• Over $27 million in cryptocurrency was sent to wallets connected to chemical suppliers, which could be used to purchase fentanyl precursors with a street value of $54 billion.
• According to Elliptic, 66% of payments were made using Bitcoin, 21% using Tether on the Tron network, 13% using tether transfers on the Ethereum network and 1% via any other cryptocurrency.

Chinese Fentanyl Vendors Accept Cryptocurrency Payments

Blockchain analytics startup Elliptic recently uncovered evidence that many Chinese companies selling fentanyl precursors take large sums of cryptocurrency payments, primarily in bitcoin (BTC) and tether (USDT). This information highlights the difficulty law enforcement has in preventing digital transactions from being used for illegal activities.

Cryptocurrency Payments Used for Fentanyl Precursor Purchases

According to Elliptic’s research, over 90% of the Chinese enterprises polled by them accepted cryptocurrencies as payment for their products, which include ingredients used to make synthetic opioids like amphetamines and methamphetamines. A total of $27 million worth of cryptocurrency was sent to wallets connected to chemical suppliers; money that could potentially buy enough fentanyl precursors with a street value exceeding $54 billion.

Dominance of Bitcoin and Tether Transactions

The majority (66%) of all payments were made using bitcoin, while 21% were done through tether transactions on the Tron network. Furthermore, 13% of all payments were conducted via tether transfers on the Ethereum network and just 1% with any other type of cryptocurrency.

Elliptic Takes Action Against Cryptocurrency Money Laundering

In response, Elliptic has identified these illegal activities and informed crypto exchanges regarding specific wallets involved in suspicious activities. The goal is to increase transparency within the bitcoin market while also safeguarding it against money laundering operations. In China specifically, it is common for people to use bitcoin when purchasing fentanyl precursors – further highlighting how difficult it can be for law enforcement agencies to prevent such transactions online.


This finding from Elliptic draws attention towards how problematic it can be for authorities trying to combat illegal activity online due its prevalence among certain industries like drug trafficking – even if they have access to sophisticated blockchain analytics tools like those provided by this company..