Update April 22, 2015 13:44 GMT: An earlier version of this article cited The Guardian, which reported that the arrested cafe co-owner owns a 12.5% stake in the confiscated ATM. According to the Brisbane Times, however, he sold his share in the ATM company prior to his arrest, and may not have owned a stake in the ATM at the time of the raid. Finance Magnates has not yet been able verify either claim. The article has been updated accordingly and with additional information.
A bitcoin ATM in Queensland, Australia has been seized as part of a drug trafficking investigation.
The ATM was located in the Roastery cafe in South Brisbane. The cafe’s co-owner has been arrested and charged with trafficking ice and cocaine over a three-year period.
According to The Guardian, the arrested owns a 12.5% stake in the ATM. A Brisbane Times report says that he and his brother owned a 25% stake in the company that imported the ATM, but the arrested sold his stake to his brother approximately five months prior to his arrest- suggesting he may not currently own a stake in the ATM. The two brothers co-owned and ran the cafe where the ATM was located.
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Police allege that the cafe was the “commercial front” for a multimillion dollar drug trafficking network led by a former leader of the Bandidos Brisbane Centro chapter, who was also arrested. Bandidos is a worldwide motorcycle and organized crime gang, estimated to have 2400 members in 22 countries.
It is yet to be determined if the ATM was indeed used for drug trafficking activity.
The operation is part of large-scale ongoing crackdown, nicknamed “Operation Juliet Wave”, throughout the Queensland territory.
An official from the territory’s crime and corruption commission (CCC), Kathleen Florian, commented on how the chapter attempts to insulate itself from prosecution by using “intermediaries to undertake their criminal activities”.
Bitcoin’s decentralized and anonymous ledger have made it a useful tool for some criminals looking to cover their tracks- in a sense, functioning as an electronic form of anonymous cash.