Police raid warehouse and uncover huge Bitcoin 'mine'

28 May 2021, 14:38 | Updated: 28 May 2021, 16:40

Police discovered the mine while looking for a cannabis farm
Police discovered the mine while looking for a cannabis farm. Picture: West Midlands Police

By Emma Soteriou

Police launched a raid on what they suspected was a cannabis farm, only to discover a huge bitcoin ‘mining’ operation inside an industrial unit.

Officers carried out a drugs search warrant on the Great Bridge Industrial Estate in Sandwell on May 18 when they made the discovery.

The force expected to find a cannabis farm in operation, after receiving intelligence that numerous people had been seen visiting the unit at different times of day.

Drones also picked up a considerable heat source and power surge at the premises, both signs of an illicit drugs operation.

Instead, around 100 computer units were found which are understood to be a part of a Bitcoin mining operation. Police seized them from the building.

Inquiries with Western Power revealed the electric supply had been bypassed, resulting in thousands of pounds of power being stolen.

Read more: 1,100 arrested in national crackdown on county lines drug gangs

Read more: Elon Musk says Tesla will no longer accept Bitcoin due to climate change concerns

Sandwell Police Sergeant Jennifer Griffin said: "It's certainly not what we were expecting.

"It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up and I believe it's only the second such crypto mine we've encountered in the West Midlands.

"My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal, but clearly abstracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is.

"We've seized the equipment and will be looking into permanently seizing it under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

"No-one was at the unit at the time of the warrant and no arrests have been made - but we'll be making inquiries with the unit's owner."

Read more: Cryptocurrency scam warning issued by bank

Read more: European markets return to gains amid cryptocurrency revival

Bitcoin mining is the process of creating more of the digital currency to add into circulation, through computers solving complicated puzzles, which takes huge amounts of power.

The mine was discovered during the week of intensified searches carried out by police, in a crackdown on county lines drug gangs.

The warrant was one of almost 50 executed during the week, which led to 84 arrests, drug seizures and the recovery of weapons such as a sawn-off shotgun.

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