An Ohio man was arrested for his operation of Helix, a Darknet-based cryptocurrency service that laundered over $300 million, federal officials said.
Larry Harmon, 36, of Akron, OH, is facing charges in Tuesday’s three-count indictment of money laundering conspiracy, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and conducting money transmission without a D.C. license.
Harmon operated Helix from 2014 to 2017, according to the indictment. Helix functioned as a bitcoin “mixer” or “tumbler,” allowing customers, for a fee, to send bitcoin to designated recipients in a manner designed to conceal the source or owner of the bitcoin. Helix was linked to and associated with “Grams,” a Darknet search engine also run by Harmon. Harmon advertised Helix to customers on the Darknet as a way to conceal transactions from law enforcement.
“Helix allegedly laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of illicit narcotics proceeds and other criminal profits for Darknet users around the globe,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
“The brazenness with which Helix operated should be the most appalling aspect of this operation to every day citizens. There are bad actors and then there are criminals who facilitate hundreds of other crimes,” said Don Fort, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The sole purpose of Harmon’s operation was to conceal criminal transactions from law enforcement on the Darknet, and because of our growing expertise in this area, he could not make good on that promise.”
The indictment alleges that Helix moved over 350,000 bitcoin – valued at over $300 million at the time of the transactions – on behalf of customers, with the largest volume coming from Darknet markets, officials said. Helix partnered with the Darknet market AlphaBay to provide bitcoin laundering services for AlphaBay customers. AlphaBay was one of the largest Darknet marketplaces in operation at the time it was seized by law enforcement in July 2017.