Europe

Darknet: Bitcoin and drugs worth £1.5m seized by Irish police

  • 6 November 2014
  • From the section Europe
dark keyboard Image copyright AP
Image caption £140,000 of drugs were seized from 'significant darknet vendor'

Police in the Republic of Ireland have seized almost 2m euros (£1.5m) of digital currency and drugs in an operation targeting international drug selling over the darknet.

The darknet is an encrypted version of the internet that enables anonymity.

Two men in their 30s were arrested.

Police found ecstasy tablets, LSD and other controlled drugs, as well as internet currency and records that may lead to further arrests, near South Circular Road, Dublin, on Wednesday.

Bitcoins, a digital currency used to pay for anonymous transactions over the internet, worth "between 1.5m and 2m euros", were found on computers seized during the raid.

The police also recovered 180,000 euros (£140,000) of drugs.

A police spokesperson said: "A critical part of this operation was preservation of data on encrypted computers which is related to the worldwide distribution of controlled drugs.

Anonymous

"The fact that such a significant vendor has been arrested in the presence of an encrypted but open computer with address lists for customers all over the world will be of significant interest to many global law enforcement agencies who specialise in darknet investigations."

The raid came after weeks of surveillance.

At a follow up search in Harolds Cross, Dublin, police also made a small seizure of controlled drugs and found documentation in relation to off-shore bank accounts in Switzerland, Belize, Poland and a number of other countries.

Police have also seized a number of bitcoins, an internet currency that enables anonymous transactions, that were stored on computers recovered.

The technology used to create the darknet is also used by people in countries like Iran and China, to circumvent government restrictions on internet access.

It is also used to create online marketplaces for illegal products and services.

Friday marks the final day of operation Onymous, an FBI and Europol initiative to disrupt global activity on the darknet.

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