DOJ looks to increase crypto investigations with move to merge teams

Quick Take

  • The DOJ is merging its National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team into the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, an official said on Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Justice plans to expand efforts to go after cryptocurrency-related crimes by bringing a dedicated crypto team into one focused on computer crime.

Starting this week, the DOJ is merging the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team into the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Nicole Argentieri, the department’s principal deputy assistant attorney general, said on Thursday in prepared remarks

“It’s now time to bring NCET to the next level,” Argentieri said. “NCET has been an enormously successful startup. Merging it into CCIPS will give it the resources and runway to accomplish even more.”

The merger will double the number of criminal division attorneys that will be available to work on crypto matters, Argentieri said. 

“It’s become obvious to everyone in the cybercrime field that cryptocurrency work and cyber prosecutions are intertwined, and will become even more so in the future,” Argentieri added.

The crypto enforcement team launched in October 2021 in a move to focus on money laundering and cybercrime. Since then, the team brought an enforcement action against crypto exchange Bitzlato in January for allegedly operating a money transmitting business that did not meet anti-money laundering requirements and moved illicit funds.

The DOJ also arrested Avraham Eisenberg for his exploit of decentralized exchange Mango Markets last year. 

New leadership

Claudia Quiroz, a long-time assistant U.S. attorney, will serve as the acting director of NCET, the official said. 

Eun Young Choi, who led the team since February 2022, will stay at the DOJ. 

“I want to thank Eun Young Choi, the inaugural Director of NCET, for her leadership in building a tremendous team across the Department to work collaboratively on these issues. She is a tremendous prosecutor, and an innovator, and we look forward to continuing to work with her in her new role,” Argentieri said. 

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