Interest in Bitcoin has increased over the past month, as Google Trends data concerning the search term “Bitcoin” shows. This surge of interest in Bitcoin triggered the Dutch law enforcement to regulate the digital currency and as a result, local prosecutors are speeding up with pending Bitcoin cases.

A two-year Google Trends chart on the keyword “Bitcoin” show a drastic increase in Bitcoin interest in late 2013, a period wherein Bitcoin reached its previous all-time high trading value. Google searches on Bitcoin have remained relatively low since then, failing to surpass 30 points out of the maximum 100 for nearly two years.

On Jan. 1, Bitcoin surpassed the 50-point mark on Google Trends for the first time in two years, demonstrating a spike of interest in Bitcoin.

Interest over time

While it is difficult to form a strong correlation between the rise of interest in Bitcoin and increasing awareness of the Dutch law enforcement in Bitcoin-based criminal activities, local police and authorities are certainly speeding up the process of unraveling illicit Bitcoin operations.

Police keeping a sharp eye on Bitcoin

On Jan. 3, local publication Het Financieele Dagblad (FD) revealed that the Dutch public prosecution department has three pending cases involving Bitcoin and money laundering.

In a statement, the FD further emphasized that the public prosecution department and the local enforcement are allocating a significant amount of resources into the investigation of any criminal activities associated with the digital currency.

As of now, there are only three cases pending and awaiting trials, with two of the cases involving money laundering through the usage of Bitcoin. Criminals used Bitcoin to move cash used in illicit activities worth millions of dollars.

The third case is a crackdown of an unregulated and illegal Bitcoin exchange which exchanged Bitcoin for euros, mostly for local users in the Netherlands.

A crackdown on illicit Bitcoin operations will force Bitcoin-based startups to be more compliant with local regulations. If the government views Bitcoin as a legal tender and has a regulatory framework to supplement its growth, the pathway for mainstream adoption will be established for Bitcoin in the long run.