The man accused of operating bitcoin mixing service Helix has pled guilty to money laundering conspiracy charges, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Larry Dean Harmon of Ohio has admitted to operating Helix from 2014 to 2017, in addition to the Darknet search engine known as Grams. Helix conspired with Darknet markets, including AlphaBay, Evolution and Cloud 9, to launder money. According to the DOJ, Helix moved over 350,000 bitcoin, which was valued at over $300 million at the time of the transactions.
“Harmon admitted that he conspired with Darknet vendors to launder bitcoin generated through drug trafficking and other illegal activities,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office in a statement. “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to infiltrate and shut down the cryptocurrency money-laundering networks that support cyber-criminal enterprises.”
The DOJ first brought the case against Harmon in February. It coordinated its investigation with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which separately levied a $60 million civil penalty against Harmon for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act through Helix.
The plea will see Harmon forfeit more than 4,400 bitcoin valued at more than $200 million today. He is awaiting sentencing, facing a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a term of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.