Australian detectives from the Criminal Proceeds Squad have seized a record-breaking haul of bitcoin worth nearly A$8.5 million (more than $6 million) in Victoria.
Local media reported Friday that the seizure was the largest amount of cryptocurrency ever confiscated by police in Australia and was part of an investigation into online drug trafficking on the dark web.
Over $9M Worth of Assets Seized
Victoria Police said it busted properties in Kinglake, Preston, Prahran, Dollar, and South Yarra with help from the East Gippsland Crime Investigation Unit and Bass Coast Crime Investigation Unit.
Items seized during the search include drugs the police believe to be “cannabis, Psilocin (magic mushrooms), MDMA, prescription medication and white powder and crystals.”
The authorities also restrained two properties valued at A$2 million and vehicles valued at A $100,000. According to the reports, total assets confiscated in the operation were valued at A$13.1 million ($9.3 million).
Meanwhile, three people were also arrested in the investigation, including a 30-year-old Preston man and a 31-year-old Kinglake woman who were interviewed by police. Although both have been released pending further inquiries, the woman was charged with possession of cannabis and will appear in court on March 3, 2022.
Modern Version of Drug Trafficking
Commander Mick Frewen, Victoria Police Crime Command, said in a statement:
“This is a remarkable result and one that highlights the modern nature of serious and organized crime. This is the 21st century version of drug trafficking and money laundering, with criminals using technology to enable immense amounts of community harm and misery.”
Frewen further added that drug traffickers believe that peddling drugs online is a “safer” option because it provides relative anonymity, but the result of the investigation shows otherwise.
While the Victoria Police began its probe earlier this year, it forms part of a larger nine-year investigation by the Cyber Crime Squad and Criminal Proceeds Squad into Silk Road, a dark web marketplace launched in 2011.