Brazilian police find BTC mining operation tied to drug trafficking
Police in Brazil have uncovered a Bitcoin Core (BTC) mining operation which they suspect is linked to drug trafficking. The officers, from the State Department of Drug Trafficking, found the operation in Porto Alegre, a city in the south of Brazil.
Earlier in the week, the police had arrested a man whom they charged with drug trafficking according to a report by local outlet Gauchazh. They suspect that the mining operation has connections to the drug trafficking ring.
The operation was being conducted in a small room with little ventilation. It contained 25 computers which the operators were using for mining. The miners also had mining chips and other software, altogether worth 250,000 Brazilian real ($64,000). The equipment was in operation 24 hours a day, the police said.
During their investigations, the police came across a man who identified himself as the owner of the operation. The man denied any association with the crime ring. He was, however, arrested for using clandestine electric power, as investigations on whether he is part of the drug trafficking ring continue.
One of the officers, Adriano Nonnenmacher, revealed that a pistol, whose identification number had been scrapped off, was also found at the site. He added:
“The flat is well-hidden. We are going to investigate further. Everything points to a Bitcoin mining operation. They could be exchanging the money and use it to fuel drug trafficking. There is also a possibility that they are using the funds derived from drug trafficking to buy Bitcoin.”
The computers in use were all confiscated. The police claimed that many of them had been smuggled, mostly from China.
Authorities have continued to arrest many criminals who use cryptos for payments. Unknown to many, cryptos aren’t fully anonymous and the addresses can be tracked. Just last week, the New York Attorney General announced that the state had made its first conviction of a crypto money laundering case. The two culprits had laundered close to $3 million before they were arrested and charged. They had been selling hard drugs on the dark web and receiving the payment in cryptos, mostly BTC.
Last week, the co-founder and CTO of blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis revealed that BTC remains the favorite crypto for criminals. This is despite the emergence of privacy-focused cryptos such as Monero and Zcash. According to him, 95 percent of all crypto crime involves BTC.
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