Two Florida Men Arrested For Money Laundering

MIAMI — Two Florida men have been arrested after selling thousands of dollars’ worth of bitcoins to undercover agents. The arrests occurred last week and were filed with the Miami Beach Police Department.

Michell Abner Espinoza, 33, and Pascal Reid, 29, were charged with money laundering in court on Thursday. Ried is a Canadian citizen who was living in Miramar while Espinoza is from Miami Beach.

According to two arrest affidavits out of the Miami Beach Police Department, both men reportedly sold hundreds of dollars worth of the bitcoins to undercover officers since last December, but were taken into custody on Thursday, February 6 after they officially made the in-person transactions.

Michell and Pascal have each been charged with one count of operating an unlicensed money service business, laundering up to $20,000, and laundering bitcoins valued at more than $20,000.

The “arrests may be the first state prosecutions involving the use of Bitcoins in money laundering operations, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle stated.

Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) told Krebs that the latest scandals about the bitcoin community are similar to other websites which have been shut down by authorities.

The biggest problem that bitcoin faces is actually self-imposed, because its always hard to buy bitcoins,Weaver said. The reason is that bitcoin transactions are irreversible, and therefore any purchase of bitcoins must be made with something irreversible namely cash. And that means you either have to wait several days for the wire transfer or bank transfer to go through, or if you want to buy them quickly you pay with cash through a site like localbitcoins.com.

I’d expect many more state cases like this one because it will act to strangle the lifeblood of the online dark markets like the Silk Road, Weaver said. If you want a significant amount of anonymous bitcoins, right now this community is about the only mechanism still available.