In a significant crackdown on financial crime, Chinese authorities have successfully apprehended 21 members of a major Tether money laundering ring that had been operating across four provinces.

The illicit network processed a staggering 380 million yuan ($55 million) in Tether (USDT) transactions.

The breakthrough in this case occurred when authorities in Qinshui County noticed unusual fund flow in the bank account of a resident, Mouyue Zhao.

This discovery, made in April, raised suspicions of money laundering activities. An extensive investigation revealed a group of criminals running a USDT over-the-counter (OTC) trading ring since October 2021.

The money laundering ring adopted a simple yet effective method for their illegal operations. By purchasing USDT at a low price, they facilitated the laundering of illicit funds through WeChat groups, allowing them to profit from these transactions. This modus operandi enabled criminals to effectively disguise the origins of their ill-gotten gains.

Chinese law enforcement acted swiftly, launching a large-scale operation across six cities in four provinces: Guangxi, Jiangxi, Henan, and Anhui. A total of 50 officers formed three arrest teams, leading to the successful capture of all 21 suspects involved in the money laundering ring.

During the arrests, authorities confiscated more than 40 mobile phones, which likely served as tools for coordinating their illegal activities.

Additionally, they seized 200,000 yuan in cash ($28,000) and 1 million yuan in USDT ($140,000). This action effectively curtailed the flow of illegal funds and disrupted the criminal network’s operations.

Upon interrogation, all Chinese suspects reportedly confessed to using Tether in their money laundering endeavors. Under Chinese law, money laundering convictions can result in a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

This sends a strong message to criminals involved in financial crimes, demonstrating the Chinese government’s commitment to combat money laundering.