British Columbia, a Canadian province, has reportedly decided to lay claim to $1.4 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) that it seized several years ago from a drug trafficker. The Canadian government claims the marijuana dealer was selling drugs in exchange for the cryptocurrency via the now-defunct underground Silk Road marketplace.
Notably, British Columbia’s director of Civil Forfeiture has formally charged the alleged marijuana peddler with the drug-related crime. However, the accused has not yet been proven guilty in court.
Nearly $2 Million Seized
When the digital currency was seized in April 2013, the price of one Bitcoin was of around $140. Now, each of the seized 226.4 Bitcoins is worth over $8,200, totaling over $1.8 million, according to data from CryptoCompare. The Civil Forfeiture Office noted that this was the first time it seized cryptocurrency during its 12 years of history.
The accused had been jailed for nine months back in 2015 by Vancouver’s police department for illegally selling marijuana. Local news outlet StarMetro noted that the marijuana dealer’s identity has not been revealed because the courts have prohibited reports leaking any information which could identify the offender’s children.
Lolita Rudovica, the lawyer representing the accused, claimed that:
The property subject to civil forfeiture seized by the police in this proceeding is neither proceeds of crime nor an instrument of unlawful activity. We are currently in the very early stages of the case.
According to the Civil Forfeiture Office, which was established in 2006 to help seize money from illicit activities, the accused went by the influential name MarijuanaIsMyMuse while selling drugs on the Silk Road.
In official court papers, the alleged offender stated he never sold drugs or controlled substances via the dark web marketplace. Interestingly, reports suggest mentioned he worked for Crime Stoppers and Vancouver’s police department in his LinkedIn profile. The man notably had no previous criminal history before his arrest in 2015.
Drug Paraphernalia Found
Despite both the defendant and his lawyer denying any wrongdoing, police found a weighing scale, mailing labels, ziploc bags, and other items that strongly suggested the man had been selling drugs. The defendant’s home was reportedly raided after the local police received a report from his neighbors about unattended “infant children” walking around in traffic.
At the time of his arrest, the alleged offender appeared to be confused and after being asked for his ID, his hands started shaking as he tried to get away, saying he had to use the bathroom, according to official police reports. Soon, the police managed to arrest him.
Commenting on the recent incident, the Civil Forfeiture said
Given the proliferation of cryptocurrency and its documented use in facilitating criminal transactions in other jurisdictions, the Civil Forfeiture Office anticipates receiving more referrals from B.C. law-enforcement agencies involving alternative currencies.
It’s well-known drug vendors use cryptocurrencies to hide their transactions. As CryptoGlobe reported last month, a French citizen named Gall Vallerius was charged with selling drugs in the US through the dark web. Although Vallerius use Bitcoin, authorities still managed to track him down.
Recently, Europe’s law enforcement unit Europol seized $5.2 million in Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Europol’s agents also seized 800,000 doses of LSD in the largest drug bust in the continent’s history