Bitcoin ATMs Seized with Cash and Drugs in Multi-Agency Operation

Working with the US department of homeland security, the Australian Police Force has arrested three men with ties to an ongoing statewide case of money laundering and drug importation using cryptocurrencies.

Detainees Found With Cash and Narcotics

As shown by a video released following the arrest, authorities arrested one of the 3 men, aged 34, on the fly. Using unmarked vehicles officers came up to a black car which they then searched. The video depicts the officers recovering a parcel from the glove box, presumably containing cocaine and heroin.

On the suspect’s person, they found an Australian post package with $120,00 inside. The officers also found cash with another one of the suspects; a 39-year-old man. Wads of $50 notes also filled a backpack in his car in addition to more narcotics.

The third and oldest individual aged 45 was arrested following a raid on a Sydney storage facility as well as 2 apartments within a unit block of the previous arrests. Working with the riot squad team the officers confiscated 5kg of illicit drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and methylamphetamine, and $4.7 million in cash. 

They also recovered 3 compromised crypto ATMs alongside items such as laptops, mobile phones, and money counters.

Nationwide Regulatory Crackdown

The incident comes shortly after the Australian government passed a bill calling for increased crypto regulation. Part of the aim of the bill was to further crypto adoption in the nation. However, its major purpose was to reduce the use of cryptocurrencies for illicit activities such as the aforementioned.

According to the Australian Federal Police, post-pandemic cryptocurrency-related scams have grown in regularity. Hence the officials now occupy a “follow the money” stance. Nine government agencies have banded together to establish a new task force. They include the federal police as well as the Australian Tax Office. With the bill for tax and regulatory reform also in play, efforts to cut short money laundering and terrorism financing are stronger than ever.

Two of the apprehended men had in the car seats more than $150,000 worth of cash.

They arrested 39-year-old faces 12 charges, one of which is the commercial distribution of narcotics. He has also been accused of knowingly partaking in profits made from illegal activities. He appeared before a local court on Saturday, 9th April, where the judge refused him bail.

Additionally, the officials have released the oldest suspect based on conditions. He is facing the 2 counts mentioned above for which he will appear in court next month. The youngest suspect’s charges are somewhat similar; money laundering and dealing in illicit profits.

Evolving with Time

Their respective arrests were part of a broader operation dubbed the Strike Force Mactier which involves multi-agencies. State Crime Command’s Organized Crime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow spoke on this.  He described the joint arrest and confiscations as indications of the effectiveness of the entire operation in impeding tech-related crime across NSW. 

We will continue to work together as a unified team,” Critchlow added.  

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He also praised the authorities’ abilities, claiming they were “second-to-none”. Critchlow says the police’s growing awareness helped facilitate a prompt, efficient response “to the evolving criminal landscape”

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