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Australian Border Force seizes $1.5 million in cryptocurrency

Elliot Hill

The Western Australian Police Force’s Drug and Firearm Squad has seized around $1.5 million worth of cryptocurrency related to drug trafficking following a tip-off from the Australian Border Force (ABF).

Police at the border initially identified a suspicious package after a screening at the Perth Gateway Facility, which examines international mail.

The package, destined for an address in central Perth, was full of narcotics sent from the United Kingdom. The drugs were concealed in a children’s toy painting kit.

A press release published on December 4 claims that 27.5 grams of the party drug MDMA was seized in tablet form, with a further 27.5 grams seized as powder.

The property that the drugs were destined for also contained drug paraphernalia and items that could have been used to supply cannabis.

Both residents who lived at the property, a man and a woman in their twenties, have been detained.

Cryptocurrency assets seized

While searching the property, officers seized an electronic device which was analysed as part of the investigation.

Officers were shocked to find a huge $1.5 million worth of cryptocurrency stored on the device, which is believed to be the proceeds of crime. The assets have been frozen after an order from the Proceeds of Crime Squad.

It hasn’t yet been reported which cryptocurrency the funds were held in.

The cryptocurrency haul is thought to be the largest seizure of its kind ever made by the WA Police Force. Detective Paul Matthews said of the case:

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

It’s unclear how police were able to access the cryptocurrency funds, unless the private keys were also stored on the device or the wallet wasn’t encrypted.

Discussing the new ways criminals are hiding their wealth, Detective Matthews commented:

“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.”

The suspects have been charged with attempted possession of drugs with intent to supply and possession of cannabis with intent to supply. Both have been refused bail. Their trial continues at Joondalup Magistrates Court today.

You can find out more about cases where cryptocurrency has been used to hide ill-gotten gains here.

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