Young New Zealand Man Spared Jail for Dealing Drugs With Bitcoin

Young New Zealand Man Spared Jail for Dealing Drugs With Bitcoin

This week, Elias Valentin Smith, a 20-year-old man from New Zealand, successfully appealed his prison sentence for drug dealing with bitcoin as a teenager. This was despite the fact that the court system considered the use of bitcoin as a sign of criminal sophistication.

Also Read: Bitcoin Is Not Used by Organized Crime Says Hong Kong Government

Not Dark Enough Net

Young New Zealand Man Spared Jail for Dealing Drugs With Bitcoin Last month, Elias Valentin Smith of North Shore, Auckland, was sentenced to two years and three months in jail for fourteen drug-related charges by the Auckland District Court. On Tuesday his lawyer convinced the High Court that jail time was too harsh a punishment for the young man and the sentence was shortened to just eleven months under house arrest, as the New Zealand Herald reports.

Although eventually withdrawing the prison sentence, the Auckland High Court was not open to the idea that the then teen was not old enough to understand the severity of his actions, in part because of the maturity the judges thought is needed to use bitcoin. One judge asked: “Would a young gang prospect on the East Coast of the North Island, who is looking at prison time for methamphetamine, accept that someone who was purposing drugs on the dark net and paying in bitcoin was not worldly wise and naïve?” Another judge added that “covert use of new technologies to break the law has its own level of sophistication”.

Operation Tiger

Young New Zealand Man Spared Jail for Dealing Drugs With BitcoinDespite the use of the dark net, the police got wind of Smith with fairly unsophisticated means. Investigators were alerted to the actions of the then high school senior by the New Zealand customs service that found several packages from abroad containing drugs addressed to the teen and his friend, which he got in the business, starting in October 2015.

Smith was arrested in November 2016 after the police raided the teen’s room at his parents house as part of what they called Operation Tiger. The police reportedly found in his room a set of scales and a small amount of drugs (including methamphetamine and lysergic acid – a precursor for LSD). His mobile phone was also seized and the police said it contained text message communications with prospective drug buyers, describing his products and offering a discount for bulk sales. The police also got its hands on several documents showing Smith had invested in bitcoin.

Should the judge have spared this young man from going to jail? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Do you agree with us that Bitcoin is the best invention since sliced bread? Thought so. That’s why we are building this online universe revolving around anything and everything Bitcoin. We have a store. And a forum. And a casino, a pool and real-time price statistics.

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Australian Authorities Charge Woman Over Darkweb Bitcoin Drug Buys

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) … Continued

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Reddit Removes Bitcoin Payment Option, Censors Darknet Forum

Reddit Removes Bitcoin Payment Option, Censors Darknet Forum

Despite all the Telegram groups, Discord channels and many other alternatives, Reddit remains a leading forum for the wider bitcoin community – especially for new users to learn about the concept for the first time. As such, the website holds power over the conversation and what happens on Reddit can have much wider repercussions.

Also Read: Monthly Web Traffic for Major Bitcoin Exchanges Falls by Half

No More Reddit Gold for Bitcoin

San Francisco headquartered link sharing and content rating website Reddit has removed the option to gift users with reddit gold using bitcoin. Despite sounding like an ICO token, reddit gold is the website’s premium membership program which gives users some special benefits and features and helps the cash-strapped company keep the servers running.

After the issue was highlighted by /r/btc moderator Bitcoinxio, we learned that it was caused due to the recent change with Coinbase Commerce, according to a moderator of number of forums on the website. User emoney04 explained: “The upcoming Coinbase change, combined with some bugs around the Bitcoin payment option that were affecting purchases for certain users, led us to remove Bitcoin as a payment option. We’re going to take a look at demand and watch the progression of Coinbase Commerce before making a decision on whether to re-enable.” Asked about the option to enable BCH payments due to their lower fees making it more economical for micro payments, the moderator answered: “Yeah that’s definitely a fair point! We’re going to keep that in mind as we move forward.”

Reddit Removes Bitcoin Payment Option, Censors Darknet Forum
Reddit gold screenshot, no bitcoin option

No More Darknet Markets

In addition to removing the above mentioned payment option, the website has also removed one of the forums where some bitcoin users followed developments about spending cryptocurrency with utmost privacy. The subreddit r/Darknetmarkets, which followed anonymous commerce venues, has now been banned. The forum was censored as part of a broader crackdown on sensitive-topics subreddits for violating “Reddit’s policy against transactions involving prohibited goods or services.”

As an American company, Reddit is compelled to comply with the ever harshening anti-privacy legal framework in the US. Just this Friday the CLOUD Act was signed into law, empowering police investigators to collect people’s data from websites without due process or even informing them of the action. As that is the case, the company might have acted out of its users’ best interests, and to prevent itself from having to surrender their information to the authorities. The website is also considered to be transitioning to a more advertiser-friendly social network model, and it might have decided to ban darknet markets as a part of that business strategy.

Reddit Removes Bitcoin Payment Option, Censors Darknet Forum

Should the bitcoin community prepare to transition away from Reddit to avoid a possible crackdown in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Reddit.


Do you want to talk about bitcoin in a comfortable (and censorship-free) environment? Check out the Bitcoin.com Forums — all the big players in Bitcoin have posted there, and we welcome all opinions.

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British Man in Amsterdam Allegedly Laundered €11.5m in Bitcoin Drug Money

British Man in Amsterdam Allegedly Laundered €11.5m in Bitcoin Drug Money

A UK man living in Amsterdam is facing up to five years in prison for allegedly helping people by exchanging fiat cash for bitcoin which was used to buy drugs. He supposedly started by growing cannabis himself but soon found the bitcoin business to be more profitable by itself.  

Also Read: US Navy Investigators Bust Bitcoin Drug Ring at Naval Academy

Amsterdam Bitcoin Mule

British Man in Amsterdam Allegedly Laundered €11.5m in Bitcoin Drug MoneyThe Dutch Public Prosecutor has demanded that the court give a 38-year-old British man five years in prison for allegedly laundering about €11.5 million in bitcoin between 2014 and 2016. This money is suspected as originating from illegal drugs deals and the trade of other prohibited goods on dark web marketplaces, the Public Prosecutor said on Wednesday.

According to the allegations, the man living in Amsterdam profited by taking bitcoins from his clients and exchanging them for fiat cash, charging an “unusually high” commission of between 5 to 8 percent. This hefty commission was the price customers paid for anonymity, the Prosecutor said – the suspect carried part of the risk and was paid handsomely for it.

The suspect allegedly used his personal bank account to exchange the bitcoin, and then withdrew cash from ATMs for his clients. Millions of euros were exchanged in this way, the Prosecutor said. The suspect and his spouse earn very little in otherwise legal income, the Netherlands Times reported.

More Profitable Than Growing Weed

British Man in Amsterdam Allegedly Laundered €11.5m in Bitcoin Drug MoneyThe British man is also suspected of growing cannabis plants as the Dutch police allegedly found plenty of plantations photo on his computer at his previous home. “He thought he had seen a gap in the market and jumped into it”, the Public Prosecutor said. “He started with a cannabis plantation, sold the harvest on the dark web and was paid in bitcoins. Soon he noticed that he no longer needed the weed to make a substantial turnover and a fine profit.”

The accused man himself still proclaims his innocence and claims that all his customers were honorable citizens who were not involved in any form of illegal trade. The Dutch court is expected to deliver its verdict in early March.

Does five years sound excessive for such a victimless crime, if proven? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Do you like to research and read about Bitcoin technology? Check out Bitcoin.com’s Wiki page for an in-depth look at Bitcoin’s innovative technology and interesting history.

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US Navy Investigators Bust Bitcoin Drug Ring at Naval Academy

US Navy Investigators Bust Bitcoin Drug Ring at Naval Academy

Despite recent claims that bitcoin is becoming less popular for illicit dealings on the dark web, investigations show that it is still the payment method of choice for many. The most recent example comes from the US Navy, where a few entrepreneurial cadets reportedly used bitcoin to buy drugs which they distributed to their classmates for profit. 

Also Read: Nasdaq-Listed “Blockchain” Companies Hit With New Legal Troubles

Sailing the High Seas

US Navy Investigators Bust Bitcoin Drug Ring at Naval AcademyUS Navy investigators have uncovered an alleged drug ring at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, involving between ten to two-dozen suspects. Three cadets are accused of buying cocaine, ketamine and LSD on the dark web using bitcoin and selling the drugs to their classmates. The investigation reportedly began nearly three months ago after one midshipman informed the authorities about the drug trade on the base.

The top brass ordered a surprise drug test for all 4,500 cadets before dawn on Wednesday morning and DEA drug-sniffing dogs discovered cocaine in the room of one of the suspected users. The cadet suspected of owning the cocaine was at athletic practice at the time and she reportedly made a run for it but was caught and taken in for questioning.

“The Naval Academy and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service recently initiated a command-assisted investigation in Annapolis after receiving a midshipman report of alleged recreational drug use within the Brigade,” said Cmdr. David Mckinney, a Naval Academy spokesman, in a statement to Fox News. “[T]he results of the investigation are still pending. We are continuing to work with NCIS on these reported allegations. The Navy has a zero tolerance for drug abuse and takes all allegations of misconduct very seriously.”

Dive Into the Deep Web

US Navy Investigators Bust Bitcoin Drug Ring at Naval AcademyWhile they are usually linked in the media, the markets of the dark web (aka dark net) offer a variety of different kind of wares other than drugs. Our recent review listed among these pirated software, unreleased movies, stolen accounts to Netflix and iTunes, stolen gift cards, credit card credentials, passports, and social security numbers of the deceased. And if you want to learn how bitcoin fits into this, you can watch the Silk Road and follow the US vs. Ross Ulbricht saga.

It is also important to remember that, while they are illegal in most countries, psychedelic drugs can have incredible therapeutic potential – especially for soldiers and veterans. For example, the $86 million bitcoin charity Pineapple Fund will donate up to $5 million to help fund Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in patients with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Do you think these Naval Academy cadets should be expelled if found guilty, or should they be given a second chance? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Do you like to research and read about Bitcoin technology? Check out Bitcoin.com’s Wiki page for an in-depth look at Bitcoin’s innovative technology and interesting history.

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Report: Litecoin Gains Popularity on the Dark Web

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Litecoin, according to a new report published by Recorded Future, is now the second most popular cryptocurrency token on the Dark Web. The report undertook a longitudinal analysis of digital communications avenues available to users on the dark web and found that nearly 30 percent of Dark Web vendors accept Litecoin. Report Findings Whilst Bitcoin … Continued

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