38-year old Larry Dean Harmon has also agreed to forfeit 4,400 BTC as part of the plea bargain
A man in the US state of Ohio has pleaded guilty to charges related to operations of a darknet Bitcoin mixing service that allegedly laundered over $300 million in BTC between 2014 and 2017.
According to the US Justice Department, 38-year old Larry Dean Harmon has admitted to being the operator of Helix, a darknet “tumbler” service that helped customers launder more than 350,000 bitcoins. Harmon then pocketed a fee from the transactions that the Justice Department said were proceeds of illegal activities.
According to a press statement from the US Attorney (District of Columbia) Office, Harmon knowingly helped criminals mix BTC acquired from drug trafficking. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) also revealed that Harmon’s Helix site was involved in laundering money for identity thieves and neo-Nazi groups.
The suspect admitted to working closely with other Darknet providers in advancing the money laundering scheme of their clients, including sites such as AlphaBay and Cloud 9. Harmon was also linked to the darknet search engine Grams, which he used to advertise his services to potential customers.
In his plea, the Ohio resident agreed to forfeit over 4,400 bitcoins, which at current prices has a market value of about $200 million.
Harmon was arrested in February 2020 after a multi-agency investigation into the activities of Helix. Law enforcement officials drawn from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), FinCEN and the FBI collaborated on the operation.
In October 2020, the US Treasury Department penalised Harmon for his Helix role and operations that went against the Bank Secrecy Act, fining him $60 million.
Harmon is now awaiting sentencing in a case that could see him do prison time of up to 20 years as well other penalties.