Chinese Fentanyl Vendors Accept Bitcoin and Tether Payments

• Blockchain analytics startup Elliptic discovered that Chinese companies selling fentanyl precursors take large sums of cryptocurrency payments, primarily in bitcoin (BTC) and tether (USDT).
• Over 90% of the Chinese enterprises polled by Elliptic accept cryptocurrencies as payment to buy fentanyl precursors.
• Money like this might buy the fentanyl precursors needed to make tablets with a $54 billion street value.

Bitcoin and Tether Accepted by Fentanyl Chemical Vendors

Blockchain analytics startup Elliptic has uncovered that Chinese companies selling fentanyl precursors are accepting large sums of cryptocurrency payments, mainly in bitcoin (BTC) and tether (USDT). This information highlights the difficulty law enforcement faces in preventing the use of cryptocurrencies for illegal transactions.

Over 90% of Enterprises Polled Accept Cryptocurrencies

According to Elliptic, over 90% of the Chinese enterprises polled accept cryptocurrencies as payment for buying fentanyl precursors. Some suppliers also provide ingredients used for making other synthetic opioids such as amphetamines and methamphetamines. The number of transactions involving these businesses has seen a dramatic increase with over $27 million worth of cryptocurrency sent to wallets connected to chemical suppliers.

Fentanyl Precursors Bought Using Bitcoin

In China, it is common for fentanyl precursors to be purchased using bitcoin which shows how difficult it can be to stop illegal activity online. 66% of all payments were made using bitcoin while 21% was done using tether transfers on the Tron network and 13% was done through tether transfers on the Ethereum network. Only 1% was paid through any other type of cryptocurrency.

Elliptic Informs Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Elliptic has informed cryptocurrency exchanges about specific wallet involvement in these illegal activities so that they can increase transparency and protect against money laundering in the Bitcoin market.


Cryptocurrency is becoming increasingly popular among those engaging in illegal activities because it makes tracing funds almost impossible due its anonymous nature. However, blockchain analytics startups like Elliptic are working hard to make sure that digital currencies are not being used for criminal activities such as buying drugs or funding terrorism.