The Spanish Guarda Civil and the Austrian Federal Police under the auspices of Europol, European version of Interpol, have arrested eight drug lords residing in Spain and Austria. They seized 5.2 million in Bitcoin and 800,000 doses of LSD.
But far from only. The joint forces also confiscated IOTA worth €137 000 ($158 411) and lumen worth €30 000 ($34 688), €2.3 million ($2.7 million) in cash and bank accounts, three pieces of real estate valued at €1 million ($1.15 million), and ten luxury vehicles. Hence they successfully completed one of the largest drug raids in the continent’s history.
The authorities did not beat around the bush and described the arrested as an “organized crime group” which used the Darkweb for selling drugs around the world for six years. They sent completely legal looking packages like additives for cement which apparently were neither cement nor additive. They also used puppet laboratories in Granada, Valencia and Amsterdam moving the substance around before selling it.
Europol also noted that “Two of the web pages managed by the organization enjoyed a great reputation, being the most known and exclusive worldwide in this field.”
It is not uncommon for criminals to use Bitcoin for payments due to its anonymous nature. The coins are usually later sold off by the authorities. For instance, in 2017, the U.S. made $48 million when it sold Bitcoin which it seized after the shutdown of the Silkroad drug market and in January — $52 million when it sold more confiscated Bitcoin.
Ironically, this news comes after the announcement that Europol organized a three-day security conference in order to find out how to tackle “the abuse of virtual currencies for illegal activities.” The agency’s director, Rob Wainwright “warned that around 3 to 4percent of £100bn in illicit proceeds in Europe were laundered through cryptocurrencies, and expressed worry that this proportion was growing “quite quickly.”
At the same time, it is also necessary to keep in mind that Bitcoin, while having its disadvantages, is still not extremely popular in the criminal world.