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Australian Authorities Charge Woman Over Darkweb Bitcoin Drug Buys

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM

Australian federal authorities have pinned multiple charges on a 32-year-old Brisbane woman for purchasing illicit drugs from the United Kingdom, using bitcoin.

‘People shouldn’t assume the dark web is invisible to Australian agencies’ warned Australian Border Force (ABF) Queensland regional commander Terry Price while announcing details of a joint-investigation with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Friday.

The two agencies have leveled multiple drug importation and trafficking charges on a Brisbane woman who is said to have purchased controlled drugs from a dark web portal with cryptocurrency, specifically Bitcoin. Police have alleged that the woman ordered, paid and organized multiple shipments of illicit drugs from the United Kingdom.

Authorities first detected ‘a small amount of MDMA’ in a parcel consignment from the UK to a Brisbane address in late December 2017. Weeks later, on January 4, ABF officers detected another package containing Fentanyl, from the United Kingdom to the same Australian address.

An investigation ensued and search warrants were eventually executed on February 2, leading to the seizures of unknown quantities of MDMA (Ecstacy), LSD, Oxycodone and Dimethylthyltrytamine (DMT), the announcement revealed.

The Brisbane woman, who appeared in court on Friday, faces a total of 15 counts of drug-related charges.

“Through close collaboration with our law enforcement partners we are able to detect imports purchased through these [darknet] sites,” Regional Commander Price added, hinting that law enforcement agencies in Australia and the UK are actively monitoring darkweb drug portals.

Australian authorities have previously dealt with crypto-related drug purchases, confiscating 24,518 bitcoins – under USD$10 million at the time in 2014 and just under $200 million today – and auctioning them from three bitcoin wallets belonging to drug traffickers.

Last year, the ABF established a team of ‘intelligence analysts’ specifically for the dark web to monitor illicit drug and gun trade, extremist activity, child pornography and more. The analysts have also been monitoring large-scale darknet vendors who accept cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and monero, the ABF revealed in April 2017.

Australian Federal Police image from Shutterstock.