The Operator of Dark Web Bitcoin Mixer “Helix” Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Charges

By Bill Toulas / August 19, 2021

Larry Dead Harmon, aged 38, a resident of Ohio, has pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in relation to the operation of “Helix,” a dark web Bitcoin mixing service platform. Harmon also admitted owning “Grams,” a very popular and powerful search engine for the darknet that was discontinued in 2017. This is also when Helix was taken offline, after three years of activity allowing anonymous cybercriminals to “tumble” stolen crypto and obscure the source or ownership info.

In total, Harmon moved 354,468 bitcoin, which corresponds to about $311 million at the time of the transactions. “Helix” had active partnerships with various notorious dark web markets such as the “AlphaBay,” “Evolution,” and “Cloud 9”, and Harmon worked hard to keep these conspiracies alive and well. The man had full knowledge of the source of the money that was “mixed” on his platform, as most of his partners dealt with drug trafficking and other criminal offenses.

Harmon also agreed to the forfeiture of 4,400 bitcoin, currently valued at $195 million, and all other properties that were seized at the time of the arrest. The counts the man faces right now include a.) conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, b.) operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and c.) money transmission without a license. These could incur a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction. After his release from prison, Harmon will be placed in a supervised status for a maximum of three years.

The particular individual is already facing a civil monetary penalty of $60 million from a parallel action launched last year from the U.S. Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. That action relied upon a separate investigation carried out with the help of the Belize National Police, so it appears that Harmon was actually hiding in a seaside resort in the Central American country. L.D. Harmon also had a presence in Greater Akron, though, operating a company named ‘Coin Ninja,’ which was promoting the use of Bitcoin as a regular currency.

Last April, the operator of another popular bitcoin mixing service named “Bitcoin Fog” was identified and arrested by U.S. law enforcement officers. That platform was estimated to have laundered approximately $336 million in cryptocurrency over the past decade, so it was of a similar size to “Helix.”

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