The Swedish state has recently been forced to return 33 BTC (worth around SEK 13 million) to three jailed drug dealers whose crypto (profits from online sales of illegal drugs) had been seized following their arrest.

According to a report by Radio Sweden, here is what happened. When the drug dealers were arrested in the spring of 2019, their profits from the the illegal sales was being kept in Bitcoin and was around 36 BTC, which was worth back then around 1.3 million Swedish Krona (SEK) or roughly $138,000.

At the time of the men’s prosecution, which commenced in April 2019, Tove Kullberg, the public prosecutor in charge of the case, apparently made the mistake of saying that the men’s debt to the state was the value of these 36 bitcoins in the local fiat currency (i.e. SEK), i.e. roughly SEK 1.3 million. The drug dealers were convicted in May 2019 and sentenced to 4-6 years in prison for their crimes.

However, fortunately for these drug dealers and unfortunately for the Swedish authorities, by the time the latter got around to selling the seized crypto, the price of Bitcoin had increased by around 10X and so only 3 BTC needed to be sold to pay off their debt to the Swedish state, which means that the authorities have had to return the other 33 BTC to these men (who are apparently still in prison).

Kullberg said during an interview with Swedish radio that this unfortunate event could have been avoided if she had argued her case in a different way:

The lesson to be learned from this is to keep the value in Bitcoin, that the profit from the crime should be 36 Bitcoin, regardless of what value the Bitcoin has at the time.


The views and opinions expressed by the author, or any people mentioned in this article, are for informational purposes only, and they do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice. Investing in or trading cryptoassets comes with a risk of financial loss.

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Image by Miloslav Hamřík from Pixabay