Unsealed DOJ documents say alleged money launderers tried to bribe U.S. officials using Tether

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has unsealed documents related to a drug smuggling case alleging that a cartel attempted to bribe U.S. officials and purchase U.S. passports using the cryptocurrency Tether.

As first reported by Decrypt, the documents, which were published September 24, accuse six individuals of laundering millions for drug cartels over the course of 12 years. They also reveal that when an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent offered one of the defendants, Tao Liu, the opportunity to purchase U.S. passports, Tao agreed and then attempted to purchase them using Tether and U.S. dollars.

The DOJ claims the group transmitted 1000 USDT and 4000 USDT to obtain the falsified documents on two separate occasions. 

In all, the defendants face charges of conspiracy to distribute drugs, conspiracy to commit money laundering, bribery and attempted identity fraud — and a maximum penalty of 20 years.