West Australian (WA) police have seized about $1.5 million worth of cryptocurrency from a couple for their alleged involvement in a drug crime. According to law officials, the seized amount is the highest value ever obtained by WA in a single raid, according to SMH report on December 4, 2019.
WA Police Seize Cryptocurrency During Raid
Per the report, the West Australian police seized AUD$1,524,102 ($1,022,827) worth of cryptocurrency from a 27-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman. The couple is alleged to be the recipient of an international mail that contained ecstasy tablets and MDMA power. Also, the mail was addressed to their home in Perth North.
Prior to the confiscation by the WA police, law officials raided the duo's property after being notified by the Australian Border Force (ABF) officers. Reportedly, ABF officers had found 27.5g of MDMA tablets and 27.5g of MDMA powder hidden in a children’s toy painting kit. The disguised drug was sent from the UK as a mail destined for the Perth metropolitan area
WA officials Raid Couple's Home and Seize Cryptocurrency
Upon being notified by ABF officers, WA officials raided the couple's home in Charing Crescent in Marangaroo and found an electronic device holding about $1 million of cryptocurrency. The device was seized alongside other items used to sell cannabis.
On the other hand, the duo has been arrested and charged to court with drug offenses. The seized items have been frozen until the outcome of the court proceeding. Further reports reveal that the duo has refused bail and will face the Joondalup Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Highest Value Ever Seized by WA Police in a Single Raid
While making comments, Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Matthews, the officer in charge of the drug and firearm squad revealed that the seized cryptocurrency is the largest amount ever confiscated by WA officials in a single bust.
Matthews also added that the WA Police Force has seized physical property and bank account assets worth millions of dollars in several drug investigations "particularly those involving established criminal networks." However, the freezing of over $1.5 million worth of cryptocurrency shows the current digital environment in which law officials must operate.
“Using the latest technologies and digital forensic techniques we thoroughly investigate all possible methods of holding financial assets, and will target all forms of wealth that may be derived from the illicit drug trade," he added.
On the other hand, the ABF commander for WA Rod O’Donnell revealed that officers discover small amounts of drugs hidden in packages daily, during mail screening. Law officials are alert to the various creative methods employed by criminals to import dangerous drugs, "and they will continue to do everything they can to stop them at the border,” he said.
Increase of Crypto-Related Crimes
There has been a heightened rise in crimes related to cryptocurrencies of late. In August 2019, the Australian federal police (AFP) arrested two men for drug trafficking offenses. Items seized from the duo included cryptocurrency-related items, steroids, and Australian currency.
In November 2019, Hugh Brian Haney, a dark web narcotics trafficker pleaded guilty to laundering over $19 million through cryptocurrency.
At the time, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:
“Hugh Haney used Silk Road as a means to sell drugs to people all over the world. Then he laundered more than $19 million in profits through cryptocurrency. Peddling drugs on the Dark Web does not provide anonymity forever, as Hugh Haney can attest.”
These aside, there is also a reported case of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seizing $4 million worth of cryptocurrency from criminals. The investigation led to the arrests of 61 people, and the shutdown of 50 dark web accounts that were linked to criminal activity.