Victoria Police has seized almost $8.5M in cryptocurrency as part of an ongoing investigation into online drug trafficking.
Yesterday detectives from the Criminal Proceeds Squad seized cryptocurrency valued at $8.498M at the current exchange rate, which is an Australian law enforcement record.
A 31-year-old Kinglake woman and a 30-year-old Preston man were arrested and interviewed by police.
Both have been released pending further enquiries in relation to this investigation, with the woman charged with possess cannabis.
She was bailed to appear at Seymour Magistrates’ Court on 3 March, 2022.
A 33-year-old man was also arrested at the Preston address and has been cautioned re possess cannabis.
Search warrants were executed yesterday at properties in Kinglake, Preston, Prahran, Dollar and South Yarra with assistance from East Gippsland Crime Investigation Unit and Bass Coast Crime Investigation Unit.
A number of items were seized from the addresses including drugs believed to be cannabis, Psilocin (magic mushrooms), MDMA, prescription medication and white powder and crystals.
Police have also restrained two properties in Kinglake and Dollar valued at about $2M, as well as vehicles including a Toyota Prado and VW T-Cross valued at about $100,000.
The total value of the seized assets as part of this investigation so far is believed to be $13.1M.
The arrests and seizures form part of an investigation by the Cyber Crime Squad and Criminal Proceeds Squad into drug trafficking on a dark web platform dating back to 2012.
The Victoria Police investigation commenced in early 2021 after information was provided to police by a Federal agency.
The investigation remains ongoing.
Quotes attributable to Commander Mick Frewen, Victoria Police Crime Command:
“This is a remarkable result and one that highlights the modern nature of serious and organised crime.
“This is the 21st century version of drug trafficking and money laundering, with criminal using technology to enable immense amounts of community harm and misery.
“Police actively work on these forums and receive information from a wide range of sources including our Australian and international law enforcement partners.
“There may be a perception that trafficking drugs online is a ‘safer’ option or one less likely to lead to detection due to relative anonymity, however this result highlights that this is absolutely not the case.
“We make no apology for targeting those involved in the manufacture and trafficking of illicit drugs and holding them to account.
“This result is also strongly demonstrates the importance of asset confiscation and ensuring that those involved in serious and organised crime do not retain any benefits from their criminal activity.
“It’s about depriving offenders of resources to commit future harm and serves as a warning that people are not only risking jail sentences if they are caught, but the loss of everything they have built up due to their criminal activity.”
Note: The Cyber Crime Squad is formerly known as the E-Crime Squad.
Reviewed 19 August 2021