The Investigations Police of Chile (PDI) conducted an operation against a Chilean trafficking organization operating in the southern part of Santiago and discovered the suspects were not only trafficking illegal substances but also operating a full-fledged Bitcoin mining operation.
As per local report, the Anti-Narcotics Brigade for Santiago’s Metropolitan Region Southern Area invaded a property on Sept. 6 in the city’s La Cisterna neighborhood. Police discovered and seized 36 kilograms of marijuana, an ecstasy pill printer, 43 grams of ketamine, and an unexpected computer setup during the third operation against the group.
As per the police, the property’s room contained some connected, plugged-in machines that were producing a lot of heat and noise, and the on-site Cybercrime Brigade confirmed that it was a Bitcoin mining operation.
Eduardo Gatica, head of the Anti-Narcotics Brigade, said, “This is an unprecedented event. This is the first time drug trafficking has been linked so directly to cryptocurrency mining.”
Police still seized 19, but only 10 of the mining machines were operational because the regional electrical grid could not support all 19 machines mining simultaneously, according to Luis Orellana, Chief of Santiago’s Cyber Crime Unit.
Authorities in the Metropolitan Region believe the sophisticated mining setup was used to launder money, although cryptocurrency mining is not an illegal activity. According to police, the now-arrested criminals allegedly used money from their drug trafficking to buy machines, channel it into their computing operation, and then exchange Chilean pesos for Bitcoin.
Prosecutor Carlos Yáez Dáz, from the Metropolitan Region’s High Complexity and Organized Crime Office, referred to the link between illegal activities and Bitcoin mining as “a novel” strategy.