Police discovered £1.25m in Bitcoin at a gang member’s home after it was reported that he had been kidnapped.
Sergejs Teresko’s partner and members of the public raised the alarm after he was bundled into a car in Virginia Water, Surrey, in April last year.
Police discovered the rented house from where he had vanished was a massive cannabis factory.
When Teresko turned up safe and well the next day, officers searched his semi-detached house in Cobham to find a keepkey device on which was stored £1.25m worth of the digital currency Bitcoin.
They also found £263,000 in cash in a heavily sealed box, and a number of designer watches and jewellery.
Teresko, 31, from Latvia, had no obvious employment – yet drove a Range Rover Evoque.
Teresko was linked to a cannabis factory in Virginia Water, Surrey. Pic: Surrey Police
He also had access to a safety deposit box containing gold bars, loose gemstones, jewellery and £20,000 in cash.
Considering the suspicious amount of cash at his home and suspected links to the cannabis factory, Teresko was arrested and charged.
In October 2017, he pleaded guilty to money laundering, cultivation of cannabis and the possession/control of articles for use in fraud at Kingston Crown Court.
Teresko was sentenced to nine years and three months imprisonment.
On Thursday, a judge at the same court found that Teresko had benefited from his criminal activity to the tune of £2m.
He has been ordered to forfeit £1.45m – including the value of the Bitcoin.
Teresko must also pay an additional £13,150 within three months or face another 10 years in jail.
Surrey Police are the first UK law enforcement agency to convert the Bitcoin into sterling and retain the money following a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing.
“Cryptocurrency is used legitimately by a lot of people but it’s also used by criminals. We know that in dark marketplaces Bitcoin is the chosen medium of exchange,” Detective Inspector Matt Durkin said.
“We were not going to accept that Bitcoin was out of the reach of law enforcement, it’s not and nor are other types of cryptocurrency.”
Surrey Police also claimed £64,000 in compensation for the owners of the Virginia Water home who had no idea their property had been converted into a drugs farm.