A record $8.49 million (~£6.23 million) in cryptocurrency has been seized by police in an investigation into drug trafficking on the dark net.
Australian detectives from Victoria Police Criminal Proceeds Squad raided underground and other public facilities yesterday. The operation involved the seizure of various property, including vehicles, worth about $13.1 million (~£9.6 million).
Two people were arrested — a 31-year-old woman from Kinglake and a 30-year-old man from Preston. They were released after being interviewed, but the woman was charged with possession of cannabis. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, police said today that the arrests and search warrants were part of an investigation into drug trafficking on the Silk Road dark net platform, which has been ongoing since 2012.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shut down the Silk Road website back in 2013. It was once the first black marketplace on the internet where drugs could be purchased anonymously. The investigation into the case is still ongoing. According to Victoria Police Commander Mick Frewen, they organised the raid after the FBI shared information.
A series of searches were conducted in Kinglake, Preston, Prahran, South Yarra and other cities in Victoria. During the sweeps plant drugs, illegal substances, prescription only medicines, two properties worth $2 million (~£1.5 million) and several vehicles worth about $100,000 (~£73,000) were seized. Cryptocurrency worth $8.49 million (~£6.23 million) was also seized, which is an all-time record.
Commander Frewen said that these arrests confirm the seriousness and vast scope of modern crime. He stressed that modern technology is now being used for money laundering and drug trafficking, causing great harm to society.
“Obviously it underscores to the community, the fact that anyone now, via the dark web, has the ability to syndicate money laundering, whether you’re part of a larger criminal organisation or a single entity. Their reach and ability to earn illegal wealth is the same. And accordingly, we’ve adapted and evolved our investigative technique and practice to keep abreast of these emergent activities.”
Mick Frewen said the police actively follows thematic forums and gathers information from various sources. They are often assisted by colleagues from Australian and international law enforcement agencies. The police commander assured that one should not think that selling drugs over the internet is a safe option, ensuring complete anonymity. He stressed that a number of searches and the seizure of property worth a huge amount proves the effectiveness of law enforcement.
Despite the technological prowess of criminals, the police are increasingly succeeding in solving cases involving illegal activities on the internet. In doing so, offenders lose not only their savings and property, but also the cryptocurrency stored in their e-wallets.
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