Crypto deposits to Chinese precursor makers surge 600% in 2023

Blockchain intel firm TRM Labs says China-based precursor manufacturers received over million in crypto in 2023, with around 60% of payments were made in Bitcoin.

Cryptocurrency appears to be becoming a more preferred payment method for Chinese drug manufacturers as the amount of crypto deposited into wallets linked to these entities soared sixfold from 2022 to 2023, according to TRM Labs, a blockchain intel firm backed by JPMorgan Chase, Visa, Citi, and PayPal among others.

In a recent research report shared with, analysts at TRM Labs revealed that deposits into addresses linked to Chinese drug producers more than doubled in the first four months of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. In 2023, Chinese precursor networks received over million, with 11 manufacturers accounting for “over 70% of all crypto-denominated sales of drug precursors.”

“Crypto funds sent to Chinese precursor manufacturers primarily come from unhosted wallets, cryptocurrency exchanges, and payment services; the manufacturers’ wallets are most commonly hosted at exchanges.”

TRM Labs

Approximately 60% of crypto payment volume to Chinese precursor manufacturers occurred on the Bitcoin blockchain, followed by 30% on the TRON blockchain and about 6% on the Ethereum blockchain, the data shows. Despite the surge in crypto payments, Chinese manufacturers also appear to be comfortable with accepting payments in fiat currencies via PayPal, MoneyGram, Western Union, and bank transfers.

Crypto deposits to Chinese precursor makers surge 600% in 2023 - 1

Drug sales by blockchain | Source: TRM Labs

According to TRM Labs’ study, Chinese drug precursors mainly target Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and the U.S., as their top countries for shipping. However, there are also advertisements targeting Russia and neighboring countries for mephedrone precursors.

In April, a U.S. congressional committee reported that China subsidizes the production of illicit fentanyl precursors, fueling the U.S. opioid crisis. The committee reportedly found that China provides value-added tax rebates to companies manufacturing fentanyl analogs, precursors, and other synthetic narcotics, provided they sell them outside China.

As another blockchain intelligence firm, Elliptic, earlier noted, fentanyl is favored by drug cartels due to its lower production cost compared to heroin and its potency, which is 50 times stronger, making it the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-45.

Tổng hợp và chỉnh sửa: ThS Phạm Mạnh Cường
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By Phạm Mạnh Cường

Phạm Mạnh Cường là một nhà đầu tư Tiền mã hoá và giảng dạy Blockchain ở Trường Đại học Kinh tế - Luật, Đại học Quốc gia Hồ Chí Minh, Việt Nam. Tác giả đã có bằng Thạc sĩ Khoa học máy tính từ năm 2011 tại Đại học Bách Khoa Hồ Chí Minh. Tính đến nay tác giả đã có kinh nghiệm 7 năm giảng dạy cho sinh viên về công nghệ Blockchain và 8 năm đầu tư trong lĩnh vực Tiền mã hoá từ 2016. Tác giả hiện sở hữu hàng nghìn bài viết tổng hợp, nhận định và chỉnh sửa về Tiền mã hoá và Tiền điện tử chất lượng trên Website và ở nhiều kênh khác.

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