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South Korean man sentenced to prison for buying drugs with Bitcoin

Source: Diko163/Adobe

A South Korean man has been handed a string of penalties after a court found him guilty of buying narcotics online — using bitcoin (BTC).

News1 reported that the 43-year-old man, who was not named for legal reasons, was convicted of drug violations by a division of the Chuncheon District Court Criminal.

The court heard the man had purchased methamphetamine (aka crystal meth) a total of eight times from August 13, 2020 to April this year. In any case, the man paid traders with Bitcoin.

Presiding judge Song Jong-seon gave the man a 10-month suspended sentence, in addition to three years of suspended sentence. The man was also ordered to take a 40-hour drug treatment course and pay a fine of almost $2,190.

South Korea’s crackdown on BTC-powered drug trafficking

South Korea has some of the strictest narcotics laws in the world. But – until recently – the police were outwitted by tech-savvy drug dealers. Dark web portals allowed buyers to find vendor contact details.

Then they set up payments using the Telegram messaging app — all in BTC and altcoins. These are then followed by “dead-drop” deliveries, with dealers visiting public places and leaving bags of narcotics in hidden nooks and crannies.

Since then, law enforcement officers have spent funds on crypto surveillance tools that they believe helped them secure multiple convictions.

In the 43-year-old man’s case, the court heard him contact a drug seller via Telegram once earlier this year before depositing 0.0143 BTC into a digital wallet.

The next day, he followed instructions that led him to discover a bag of methamphetamine “hidden above the entrance of a building in Seoul.”

Earlier this year, police arrested more than 200 people on suspicion of dealing in drugs including ketamine, cannabis and MDMA (ecstasy) through the Telegram app and bitcoin wallets.

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