Australian Resident Arrested After Allegedly Being Involved in Cryptocurrency-Related Drug Trafficking

Omar Faridi
  • Australian citizen arrested for his alleged involvement in crypto-related drug trafficking crime.
  • Two local crypto exchanges believed to also be involved in facilitating the criminal activity have had their licenses suspended.

An Australian citizen has reportedly been taken into police custody and the registrations of two local digital asset exchanges have been suspended - as Australia’s Federal Police (AFP) is currently finalizing an investigation of what appears to be organized crime.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) has also joined the AFP in its investigation. The accused, a 27-year-old resident of Bulleen, Victoria, has been charged for his alleged involvement in organized crime activities - after the AFP reportedly completed its second round of investigations.

According to Austrac, the initial investigation led to the arrest and conviction of two men who were found guilty of being involved in various drug trafficking incidents in October 2017. The men had allegedly been importing illegal and controlled substances through Melbourne’s international mail service.

Life Imprisonment Is Possible

On March 7, 2019, the AFP sent out search warrants to be executed in Bulleen, Templestowe Lower, and Malvern (all suburbs of Melbourne). Officials investigating the matter managed to seize Australian currency (AUD), controlled steroids, and various “cryptocurrency-related items.”

Other details from AFP’s investigation revealed the 27-year-old Australian citizen has now been charged with importing, trafficking, and being in possession of about 30 kilograms of drugs. Notably, the maximum enforceable penalty for the crimes that the accused has been charged with is life imprisonment.

Moreover, it is now expected that police officials assigned to the case will try to prove that the alleged offender "played a key role in directing the operations of the criminal syndicate, which used various dark net sites, bitcoin accounts, and legitimate business for the sourcing, payment, and distribution of the illicit drugs". While investigating the incident, AFP-managed Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) is also seeking the restraint of items seized during the investigation.

$1.8 Million In Ether (ETH) Stolen In Violent Crime

As noted by Austrac, the County Court of Victoria has given orders to seize property worth over $2 million AUD (appr. $1.4 million). This reportedly includes cash, a motorcycle, several cars, bank accounts belonging to the accused, various real estate properties, and cryptocurrency.

As CryptoGlobe reported in September 2018, Louis Meza, a New York resident, pleaded guilty for organizing the kidnapping of a crypto trader and stealing ether (ETH) worth over $1.8 million (at that time). Meza and three other accomplices in the armed robbery were also charged with “orchestrating a violent attack [against the victim] that demonstrates the vanishing line between street crime and cybercrime,” Cyrus R. Vance, a Manhattan District Attorney assigned to the case, noted last year.