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Rep. Juan Vargas’ FIND Trafficking Act Passes in the House

Jan 28, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (January 28, 2019)— Today, Rep. Juan Vargas’ bipartisan bill, the Fight Illicit Networks and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act of 2019 (H.R. 502) passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives. This bipartisan bill would require the Comptroller General of the United States to study how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex or drug trafficking and propose regulatory and legislative actions to put an end to these illicit activities. Through the Comptroller General’s findings and proposals, Congress would craft effective legislative solutions to regulate the use of virtual currencies to prevent crimes such as sex trafficking and illegal drug sales.

“I am glad to see that my bill, the FIND Trafficking Act, passed out of the House with strong bipartisan support," said Rep. Juan Vargas. "This bill is a critical first step for Congress to better understand the full extent of how virtual currencies are being used to facilitate drug and sex trafficking. H.R. 502 will equip us with the information needed to make our communities safer by proposing effective legislative solutions to combat these illicit crimes. I look forward to seeing the same level of support for this legislation in the Senate."

Virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, Dash, Zcash, and Monero, can be used for legal purchases. However, the anonymity associated with virtual currencies has led them to become a preferred financial payment method for illicit activities. Virtual currencies have become a prominent method to pay for goods and services associated with illegal sex and drug trafficking, which are two of the most detrimental and illegal activities facilitated by online marketplaces and the dark web.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2017 National Drug Assessment, transnational criminal organizations are increasingly using virtual currencies for illicit activities, including drug trafficking. It has also been reported that virtual currencies are being used to run illegal online marketplaces to sell drugs, including the opioid, fentanyl, and contributing to the opioid crisis in America.

While evidence points to the growth of virtual currencies as a payment method for illicit sex and drug trafficking, the true scope of the problem and potential solutions are still unknown. H.R. 502 would study and analyze how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex and drug trafficking to determine how to prevent these illicit and harmful activities. 

Vargas represents California’s 51st Congressional District which includes the southern portion of San Diego County, all of Imperial County and California’s entire U.S.-Mexico border.  Vargas was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and is currently serving his fourth term in Congress.  He serves on the House Financial Services Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee.