Ethereum Address Sanctioned by OFAC Over Drugs Link

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  • The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned an Ethereum address linked to a drug peddler
  • Mario Alberto Jimenez Castro is associated with the Sinaloa cartel and his Ethereum address has been used to funnel drug payments
  • The U.S. government is offering a $1 million reward offered for his arrest/conviction.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has expanded its sanctions list to encompass ten individuals involved in illicit narcotics trading and has sanctioned an Ethereum address as a result. The address in question is that of Mario Alberto Jimenez Castro, also known as “Kastor,” a 34-year-old Mexican associated with the Sinaloa cartel. While the wallet is currently almost empty it has seen tens of thousands of dollars in stablecoins moved through it over the years.

Drugs Sales Funneled Through Crypto

According to the State Department, Jimenez Castro is a money launderer who operates an organization that uses cryptocurrency to move proceeds from fentanyl trafficking across the Mexican border, including cities like New York City, Boston, Denver, Nashville, Omaha, and Salt Lake City. The US Department of State is offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction.

Since around August 2022, Jimenez Castro has been allegedly instructing individuals to collect money from various traffickers in the US and then depositing that cash into cryptocurrency wallets controlled by other high-ranking members of the organization.

The address in question currently holds just 0.017 ETH ($27), but its transaction history reveals frequent inbound transfers from Coinbase, followed by outbound transfers to Binance, which will please the Securities and Exchange Commission in its attempts to bring them down. In total, hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stablecoins have flowed through the address, including 143,965 USDT to Binance in 2022.

OFAC’s Crypto List Grows

Jimenez Castro is now among a growing list of government-sanctioned cryptocurrency addresses connected to criminal activities, alongside those linked to the North Korean Lazarus Group and crypto mixers like Tornado Cash, which enhance transaction privacy and are thus favored by money launderers.

Sanctioned addresses can technically still be used but are illegal to engage with, potentially exposing crypto exchanges that interact with these blacklisted addresses to legal consequences from authorities.