Members of a British Police Force are patting themselves on the back for becoming the first police force in the country to wittingly capitalize on nearly $2 million worth of Bitcoin they seized from a marijuana grower.
It all started in April of last year when the Surry police force arrested a man accused, and later convicted of, money laundering and drug offenses.
During the investigation, 295 bitcoins were seized. The police chose to convert those bitcoins into sterling and retain the money following a country criminal act hearing on Thursday.
The bad actor in this case is Sergejs Teresko. He had reportedly been kidnapped after members of the public called the police when they saw him being hustled into a car. Officials report a woman called them to say she believed “her partner was in danger.”
Off police went to find him, and when they reached his home they found a cannabis factory.
During this alleged kidnapping, Teresko contacted police to say he was fine, but he wouldn’t tell them what happened to him.
Red flags were raised by this, and also suspicious was the large amount of cash found at Teresko’s home.
He was arrested and charged. He later pleaded guilty to money laundering, cultivation of cannabis and the possession/control of articles for use in fraud. He was sentenced to nine years and three months imprisonment, according to a police statement.
What’s in your wallet?
When his home address was searched, a Bitcoin wallet was discovered along with large amounts of cash and luxury goods, officials say.
At first, officials were skeptical that the wallet included anything. They were surprised to find the nearly 300 bitcoins in it.
In a statement, the police say:
To our astonishment, the account contained 295 Bitcoins which were moved into a wallet controlled exclusively by Surrey Police.
Detective Inspector Matthew Durkin, of the Economic Crime Unit, said:
“It appears Teresko was a member of an organised crime group and bitcoin was one of the methods he chose to launder criminal assets. I hope this sends a clear message to criminals using bitcoin to fund illegal activities; it’s not an anonymous as you think, we are able to trace you and we will prosecute. This is a ground-breaking, innovative achievement and we are very pleased to be the first UK police force to have achieved this.”
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