Australia Shuts Down Two Cryptocurrency Exchanges Associated with Drug Trafficking | #VentureCanvas
Jeff Francis | bitcoinerx
Police in Australia arrested a man for drug trafficking and shut down two cryptocurrency exchanges he was associated with.
The vast majority of Bitcoin transactions are for perfectly legitimate reasons, but the sad reality is that criminals do use cryptocurrency from time to time. A few years back, Bitcoin and drugs were linked together when U.S. federal law enforcement shut down the infamous Silk Road website. While a major bust, drug trafficking still goes on in the bowels of the dark web. Police in Australia recently arrested a man for using cryptocurrency for selling narcotics, and two cryptocurrency exchanges he was associated with were shut down.
Drug Trafficking in Australia
In 2017, Australian law enforcement arrested two men for importing narcotics into Melbourne via international mail. The drug smuggling was being conducted by an organized criminal syndicate. After that initial arrest, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) continued their investigation, which eventually led them to a 27-year-old man living in Bulleen, a suburb of Melbourne.
Armed with search warrants, police investigated multiple locations in several suburbs of Melbourne on March 7th. They found steroids, cryptocurrency-related items, and Australian fiat, which were all seized. After the search warrants were executed, the 27-year-old man, whose name was not released, was arrested.
Police say the man is a key figure in the criminal syndicate behind the drug trafficking. The syndicate used a combination of legitimate businesses, dark web sites, and Bitcoin accounts to run their narcotic operations. The man was charged with importing, possessing, and dealing roughly 30 kilograms of cocaine, ketamine, MDMA, methamphetamine, and other narcotics.
Law enforcement then seized over $2 million AUD in assets, including vehicles, real estate, cryptocurrency, and fiat. In addition, the man was an executive for two cryptocurrency exchanges. AUSTRAC, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, shut down both exchanges.
Crypto Justice Down Under
Shortly after his arrest, the 27-year-old man appeared in court and was charged with nine counts of drug possession and trafficking. The penalties for the charges range from 10 years to life in prison.
AFP Detective Superintendent Paul Hopkins discussed the seizure of assets, stating:
When you take the profit out of crime, you hit offenders where it hurts most. Combined with serious criminal charges attracting long prison sentences, this highlights how trafficking drugs is simply not worth it in the long-run.
Investigations such as this are inherently complex and the operational results achieved by the investigative team are a testament to good police work and strong interagency cooperation.
Dr. Nathan Newman, the AUSTRAC National Manager, commented on the working partnership between AUSTRAC and the AFP. He also mentioned the two closed cryptocurrency exchanges, saying:
AUSTRAC’s role is to deter and disrupt criminal exploitation of Australia’s financial system and we take swift action where we there is a reasonable risk of compromise. Our decision to suspend the registration of the two businesses means they can no longer lawfully operate.
Overall, it seems that the criminal syndicate was probably using the cryptocurrency exchanges to launder money in order to facilitate narcotic sales. The names of the two exchanges were not released.
Do you think criminals have a hand in operating other exchanges in order to launder funds? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay and Pexels.
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