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Police Raid Suspected Marijuana Farm But Instead Find Illegal Bitcoin Mine


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Police in the United Kingdom were utterly surprised when their investigation of an alleged Marijuana farm turned out to be an illegal Bitcoin mine instead.

The Midlands police discovered the illegal Bitcoin mine after they received a tip that people were visiting an industrial unit on the outskirts of the city of Birmingham multiple times a day.

Police then sent out a drone to hover over the location which resulted in the drone detecting a high amount of heat being released from the unit.

Police then suspected that the industrial unit was being used to grow marijuana but after performing a raid on the unit investigators found out that it was a bitcoin mine that was stealing thousands of pounds worth of electricity from a power grid.

CNN had more on the story:

Police in the United Kingdom uncovered a cryptocurrency mine powered by stolen electricity during a raid of what they suspected was a cannabis farm.

The facility was stealing thousands of pounds worth of electricity from the mains supply, according to a statement from the West Midlands Police, published Thursday.
Bitcoin is tumbling at the end of its worst month in nearly 10 years

“Officers forced entry to the premises in Great Bridge Industrial Estate, Sandwell, on 18 May on the back of intelligence suggesting it was being used as a cannabis farm,” the statement read.

“Lots of people were visiting the unit at different times of day, lots of wiring and ventilation ducts were visible, and a police drone picked up a considerable heat source from above,” it added.

Despite these being described by the police as “classic cannabis factory signs,” officers instead found “a huge bank of around 100 computer units as part of what’s understood to be a Bitcoin mining operation.” Police seized IT equipment and said inquiries with electricity supplier Western Power revealed the electric supply “had been bypassed and thousands of pounds worth had been stolen to power the ‘mine’.”

CNBC shared more details on why so much electricity was needed for the bitcoin miners:

Bitcoin miners use purpose-built computers to solve complex mathematical equations that effectively enable a bitcoin transaction to go through. The miners are rewarded for their efforts in the digital currency.

However, the entire process is incredibly energy intensive because of the amount of power used by the computers. Bitcoin has a carbon footprint comparable with that of New Zealand, producing 36.95 megatons of CO2 annually, according to Digiconomist.

“My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal but clearly abstracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is,” Griffin said. The term “mains supply” refers to the utility grid.

The computer equipment has been seized but no arrests have been made.

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