South Korean authorities recently arrested nine people charged with dealing drugs online using cryptocurrencies, according to a Korea Herald report.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on December 23 detailed that the alleged criminals were using the darknet and even set up a website to sell drugs. All the nine arrested persons are in their 20s and 30s. The owner of the website, who has been identified by the name of Shin, is also among the arrested bunch.
Darknet websites are hidden from the generally accessible internet, and special tools and browsers – like Tor – are needed to access these sites. These websites have many layers of encryption and provide anonymity to their operators and users. For this reason, this part of the internet is extremely popular among criminals dealing in arms, drugs, or illicit content.
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Shin’s website attracted a large number of customers over the months, and as the reports show, the community had 636 members between March and November and brokered sales of drugs on 50 occasions. The authorities have now closed the infamous website. This is the first drug bust of the South Korean authorities on the darknet.
The arrested dealers are also accused of growing cannabis and selling self-made hashish. They also smuggled psychoactive drugs like LSD and MDMA from other countries and sold them on the website. The prosecutors also charged the owner and the programmers of the websites with smoking marijuana.
The dealers were using DarkCoin – a cryptocurrency developed to provide anonymity to the users – for making the transactions. The prosecutors are now trying to preserve 100 million won ($88,700) generated by the drug trades.
Crypto and the Underworld
The link between drugs and cryptocurrencies is nothing new. The anonymous nature of the digital coins makes them a perfect tool for criminals. Earlier this year, the UK police seized at least 300 Bitcoins worth over $1.7 million during a crackdown of a drug dealer and money launderer who was using cryptocurrency to conceal his funds. The situation across the Atlantic is even worse, as, in June, a massive sting operation in the US resulted in the seizure of $20 million in cryptocurrency and the arrest of 35 people.