The Austrian Federal Police and the Spanish Guardia Civil, under the guidance of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), have conducted the biggest lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) raid in European Union history. The criminal organizations responsible were operating on the darknet and laundering their profits with cryptocurrency, resulting in EUR 4.5 million of cryptocurrency including Bitcoin, IOTA, and XLM being seized during the raid.
Two laboratories in the provinces of Granada and Valencia in Spain were raided and dismantled, resulting in the confiscation of 800,000 doses of LSD, a new record for the European Union. LSD is a popular but illegal drug which gives powerful psychedelic experiences. In total, drugs with a market value of EUR 12 million were seized. Additionally, EUR 700,000 of cash was seized, EUR 1.6 million was seized from an Austrian bank account, 3 properties were confiscated with a total value of EUR 1 million, ten luxury vehicles were impounded, and 8 were arrested and accused of drug trafficking and money laundering.
Apparently, the crime group responsible for the two darknet drug laboratories had been operating in Spain since 2012 and had been sending drugs to over 100 countries through the mail. The drugs from the laboratories were sold exclusively on the darknet, and they were supplying two websites that had become the most popular darknet drug markets in the world. However, the names of the darknet markets associated with this raid were not disclosed.
This raid and announcement comes on the heels of the biggest undercover darknet sting in United States history, suggesting there is an ongoing international crackdown on darknet drug markets and the use of cryptocurrency for drug trafficking. In the United States 2,000 Bitcoins were seized, while this Europol raid took in 510 Bitcoins.
Fortunately, Bitcoin’s price is no longer tied to darknet criminal activity, so this raid will not impact the market. A study by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic shows that only 1% of all Bitcoin transactions are related to crime. Fiat cash is used far more than Bitcoin for illegal activity.
That being said, darknet markets will continue to favor cryptocurrency as a means of money transfer due to cryptocurrency’s relative anonymity and cryptographic security. Considering how easy it is to set up a darknet market, the destruction of darknet markets in recent raids across the globe will only lead to new ones popping up, and the war between police and drug traffickers will continue across the darknet.
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