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Australian authorities seize record $1M worth of crypto in drug probe

Yogita Khatri

The Western Australia Police Force has seized record AU$1.52 million (~US$1 million) worth of cryptocurrency in a drug probe.

The police have arrested a 27-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman in the case, Australian Border Force (ABF) announced Wednesday. The man and the woman are alleged to have imported 27.5g of MDMA drug tablets and 27.5g of MDMA powder from the U.K., concealed in a children’s toy painting kit.

As part of the investigation, the police also seized an electronic device and found AU$1,524,102 worth of cryptocurrency. “The cryptocurrency seizure is believed to be the highest value seizure of its kind made by [Western Australia] Police Force,” said Paul Matthews, detective senior sergeant and officer in charge of the drug and firearm squad of the police force.

Matthews added: “The identification and freezing of over $1.5million of cryptocurrency in these circumstances highlights the current digital environment in which law enforcement agencies must operate.”

Both the man and the woman have been charged with attempted possession of drugs with intent to sell or supply (MDMA) and possession of prohibited drugs with intent to sell or supply (cannabis), per the announcement. They have appeared twice in a court since November and are next due to appear today.

"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," said Matthews.