A 25-year-old man from Adelaide Hills, South Australia, has been taken into custody on allegations of drug trafficking and money laundering. Authorities seized cryptocurrency assets valued at approximately $1.5 million during the operation.
As per a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday, the man maintained several vendor accounts on the dark web, where he purportedly sold a range of drugs.
Among the confiscated drugs was “nitazene,” a synthetic opioid which has raised concerns due to its extreme potency.
Detective Superintendent Adam Rice underscored the risks of nitazene, equating its danger to that of fentanyl, but emphasized that nitazene has never been greenlit for human use.
“These substances are extremely hazardous, bearing a resemblance to fentanyl in terms of their toxicity, but with the difference that they’ve never received clearance for use in humans. The risk of overdose is alarmingly high,” he commented.
The police contend that the roughly 5 kilograms of nitazene they discovered may be the most significant amount ever seized in Australia.
Back in July, SA Health sounded an alarm about protonitazene after confirming two overdoses and suspecting two more incidents, one of which tragically resulted in death, with the drug suspected to have been involved.
Yet, Superintendent Rice was keen to highlight that, as of now, no evidence directly ties the apprehended dark web vendor to the aforementioned fatality.
SA Police Started Investigation into Dark Web Vendor Earlier This Year
Earlier this year, authorities initiated an investigation targeting the clandestine drug trade on the dark web.
By successfully tracking the cryptocurrency tied to the illicit dealings, the police were able to pinpoint an actual person residing in South Australia.
In September, officers executed search warrants at a home and two storage facilities located in Adelaide Hills. This led to the seizure of a significant amount of prohibited drugs, monetary assets, digital currencies, and electronic equipment.
Superintendent Rice disclosed that the arrested individual amassed considerable payments in the form of cryptocurrency, culminating in the capture of assets valued at roughly $1.5 million during the raid.
Furthermore, physical cash, aggregating to several tens of thousands of dollars, was also seized.
The 25-year-old detainee has been placed in custody and awaits a future court appearance, as affirmed by the South Australian Police.
Over $330 Million in Crypto Stolen in September
September witnessed an unprecedented spike in crypto-related breaches, with losses amounting to around $332 million due to various hacks, manipulations, and scams.
A significant incident that month was the attack on the Mixin Network on September 23.
Mixin Network, a decentralized cross-chain transfer protocol based in Hong Kong, underwent a major security breach. This led to a staggering loss of $200 million, attributed to a compromise in its cloud service provider.
On September 12, another significant breach unfolded with CoinEx, a cryptocurrency trading platform. The exchange detected an anomalous and sizable withdrawal from four of its hot wallets, suggesting a potential attack.
This security lapse resulted in losses amassing more than $53.1 million from the affected wallets.
A report released in late August by the Web3 bug bounty service, Immunefi, highlighted that DeFi and other cryptocurrency platforms have seen a total loss exceeding $1.2 billion due to hacks and deceptive rug pulls within the year.
This extensive report cataloged 211 distinct incidents leading to the hefty loss figure, with August alone witnessing a drain of $23.4 million.