Bitcoin ‘mine’ uncovered during industrial unit raid
We executed a drugs warrant at a Black Country industrial unit – and uncovered a cryptocurrency ‘mine’ that was stealing thousands of pounds worth of electricity from the mains supply.
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.
We heard how 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.
They are all classic cannabis factory signs – but when officers gained entry they found a huge bank of around 100 computer units as part of what’s understood to be a Bitcoin mining operation.
The IT equipment was seized and enquiries with Western Power revealed the electric supply had been bypassed and thousands of pounds worth had been stolen to power the ‘mine’.
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 enquiries with the unit’s owner.”
The warrant was one of almost 50 executed as part of County Lines Intensification Week (17-23 May) which led to 84 arrests, significant drug seizures and the recovery of weapons including a sawn-off shotgun and a blank firing pistol converted to discharge live rounds.