Law enforcement officials in Europe have conducted one of the largest drug raids in the continent’s history, seizing $5.2 million in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies along with 800,000 doses of LSD.
The Spanish Guarda Civil working with Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement, arrested eight people after searching six houses in Spain and one in Austria. The bust also seized €2.3 million ($2.7 million) in cash and bank accounts, three pieces of real estate valued at €1 million ($1.15 million), and ten luxury vehicles.
Authorities say the arrested individuals, whom they describe as an “organized crime group,” had been operating in Spain since 2012 and sold the drugs exclusively via the Darknet. The suspects allegedly sent packages to over 100 countries, camouflaging the drugs as legal products, including additives for cement. Two drug laboratories were shut down as a result of the investigation.
“Two of the web pages managed by the organization enjoyed a great reputation, being the most known and exclusive worldwide in this field,” Europol said in a statement.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are popular tools for criminals because they make it harder for authorities to trace transactions. Authorities typically auction off the coins when the cases are finished. In 2017, the U.S. made $48 million from the sale of Bitcoin from the shut down of the infamous Silk Road online drug market. And in January, U.S. marshals auctioned off $52 million worth of Bitcoin, seized from drug dealers.