South Korean Police Swoop on 86 Suspected Bitcoin-using Drug Traders

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South Korean police officers continue to close the net on suspected darkweb-based drug traders – with officers in North Gyeongsang Province arresting 86 people they believe bought or sold narcotics using bitcoin (BTC) as a payments tool.

As reported last month, officers in the capital Seoul arrested 178 people in an initial crackdown on suspected drug dealers and customers that has since widened to include illegal brokers and unofficial BTC “exchanges.”

According to Segye Ilbo, at least four suspected drug dealers – all described as being male and in their twenties – were arrested in the latest crackdown, with officers alleging that that the quartet had made use of the Telegram chat app to conduct their deals after initially contacting potential customers via darkweb portals.

The quartet refused to accept any other form of payment beside BTC, and never met their customers in person. Instead, after receiving payment, the dealers allegedly dropped off “bags of narcotics” in designated public places, such as fire hydrants, little-used mailboxes, and even outdoor air conditioner extractor fan units.

One individual earned $72k worth of bitcoin

One individual was said to have earned over USD 72,000 worth of bitcoin in this manner, selling drugs like MDMA (ecstasy) and ketamine, as well as synthetic cannabinoids.

Sales were made “nationwide,” officers stated, with suspected dealers traveling cross-country from North Gyeongsang to Gyeonggi Province, Busan, and South Gyeongsang Province.

Officers told reporters that most of the suspected drug dealers’ customers were first-time offenders aged in their twenties and thirties – and claimed that most had said they were “curious” about narcotics and had wanted to “give them a try.”

Police officers stated that they had tracked down the offenders using new high-tech tools that allow them to monitor activities on the darkweb, as well as suspicious-looking crypto transactions.

The police force previously launched a special Darkweb and Cryptoasset Special Investigation Team and has pledged to investigate “whether or not” darkweb portal operators “are related to major clubs and entertainment establishments in Seoul.”