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DOJ arrests Samourai Wallet founder over $2b illegal money flow 

Samourai Wallet founders Keonne Rodriguez and William Lonergan Hill have been arrested by U.S. authorities for laundering over $100 million.

According to an April 24 press statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, federal prosecutors have indicted Rodriguez and Hill with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitter via crypto-mixing platform Samourai. 

Per the notice, Rodriguez was arrested on U.S. soil, while Hill was apprehended in Portugal and will be extradited to face trial. If convicted, Rodriguez faces a sentence of up to 20 years and Hill up to five years.

Samourai’s Wallet website, hosted in Iceland, was also seized, and the Google Play Store was petitioned to offboard the application. 

Samourai Wallet website seized | Source: U.S. DOJ

Authorities allege that the pair allowed more than $2 billion in unlawful transactions through the protocol, pocketing over $4.5 million in processing fees since 2015. The DOJ said Samourai’s creators marketed the platform as “focused on censorship resistance and black/grey circular economy,” offering bad actors a haven to operate clandestine activities. 

Private messages and social media posts attributed to Hill were cited as evidence to support the argument that Samourai knew criminals leveraged the tool and even encouraged it in some cases. 

The arrests are a continuation of an ongoing crackdown on crypto mixers believed to be used by threat actors like North Korea’s Lazarus to evade oversight and undermine law enforcement. 

Last month, federal prosecutors won a case against Bitcoin Fog founder Roman Sterlingov for facilitating over $400 million in illegal drug sales.

The DOJ also has a case against Tornado Cash developers Roman Storm and Roman Semenov, while other crypto mixers like Blender and Sinbad have been sanctioned.