The U.S. Department of Justice said late last week that an "extensive" bitcoin mining operation in Bulgaria was seized as part of a broad crackdown on QQAAZZ, a transnational criminal organization.
In a press release, the DOJ said that 14 QQAAZZ members were indicted, according to documents unsealed on October 15, in addition to other court actions begun in 2019 and earlier this year. As such, a total of 20 QQAAZZ members have been indicted to date.
The alleged members are accused of participating in a vast money-laundering operation that employs the use of bank accounts, cryptocurrencies and other means of illicitly moving funds. As previously reported, QQAAZZ's operations serve as a financial conduit for global cybercriminals who seek to move money taken from victims. Specifically, QQAAZZ makes use of so-called "bank drops" or persons who own a bank account that, after receiving stolen money, withdraw or "cash out" all of those funds.
While the court documents don't mention the bitcoin mining operation, the DOJ press release states that "an extensive bitcoin mining operation associated with [QQAAZZ] was seized in Bulgaria."
"Today’s charges, brought in coordination with our European law enforcement partners, reflect the Criminal Division’s steadfast efforts to work with authorities worldwide to protect the public from fraudsters and the money launderers who help them hide their stolen money," Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt said in a statement.