Prosecutors are demanding three men charged with selling drugs online in Norway repay their profits in 120 BTC and millions in Norway kroner, the first time the country has demanded payment in bitcoin, according to RT newswire.
The men allegedly sold drugs using Silk Road and other underground websites to sell drugs, according to prosecutor Richard Beck Pederson. The payments were mostly made with bitcoins.
Investigators have “evidence for the sale in bitcoins,” he said, and prosecutors are also demanding 3.1 million Norwegian kroner ($360,000) in payment.
The three were charged on Friday.
A 2-Year Investigation
Pederson said Norwegian police conducted the investigation with investigators from abroad for two years. They linked the case to the Silk Road website, which authorities shut down in 2013 when its founder was arrested in the U.S.
Prosecutors said the three men organized a drug-selling group, in which they sent narcotics by mail to customers.
Police arrested the men in June 2015 in the greater Oslo area, seizing narcotics along computers and an illegal indoor marijuana farm.
The case marks the first time the Norwegian government demanded payment in bitcoins, but Pederson said: “this is in no way an official Norwegian recognition of the digital currency.”
A trial is expected to be scheduled later this year.
Bitcoin’s legal status varies widely from country to country, with some nations welcoming it and others banning it. Critics have said bitcoin has made it easier to conduct organized crime dealings.
Norway Drug Arrests Aren’t New
Norway police made their largest drug bust ever last May when they arrested 15 people selling drugs on what they claim is the second version of the notorious Silk Road online marketplace that the U.S. FBI closed in 2013.
DNB, Norway’s largest bank, has dismissed Norges Bitcoinforening, a recently-formed, non-profit bitcoin association, over concerns about terrorist financing and money laundering. Norges Bitcoinforening has since decided to take its business elsewhere.
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