An Irish drug dealer has accumulated a fortune in Bitcoin by investing early. Two years after his arrest, the Irish police obtained a court order that allowed them to confiscate the coins. But now the police face a completely different obstacle …
The Irish Mirror reports that the Criminal Assets Bureau of Ireland (CAB) has seized bitcoins worth 52 million euros from a drug dealer. The dealer, Clifton Collins, said the mirror used so much electricity for his cannabis farm that he almost paralyzed the national grid.
Collins was arrested in early 2017 when the police caught him in a jeep with cannabis worth around € 2,000. The subsequent investigations led to a cannabis farm in Galway with plants worth almost half a million euros. During this investigation, the police also discovered that the dealer had around 6,000 bitcoins, which corresponds to a good 52 million euros today.
Collins did not earn the 6,000 Bitcoin from selling drugs, but bought it as an early adopter of Bitcoin. The large fortune does not point to a suitably large dealer, but is due to a clever investment. The dealer probably had the pleasure early on to learn about the power of Bitcoin through its business and to invest accordingly in the cryptocurrency.
The dealer was arrested, sentenced to five years in prison, and a court prohibited him from spending the bitcoins. Now the country’s highest court has allowed the CAB to withdraw the 6,000 bitcoins. Presumably, because the original investment was financed by criminal activity and the state subsequently also regards any profit that it generates as its property. The 6,000 Bitcoin are the largest seizure that the CAB has made since 1996. With Ireland’s annual government revenue of around € 100 billion, this is a rather small sum of around 0.05 percent – but still a not insignificant bit of bitcoins value that the Irish state can add to its portfolio.
However, the story does not end here – it only begins. Because the seizure is not as simple as it was thought. The CAB has the permission of the Supreme Court – but this alone does not give access to the coins. As the Irish Times reports, Collins has shortly before – or shortly after? – When he was arrested, he produced a paper wallet: A4 paper on which the keys for the 6,000 Bitcoin were printed.
He kept this paper in the aluminum tin in which he also kept his fishing rod in his apartment. After he was arrested, his landlord vacated the apartment and disposed of the dealer’s property. The clearers remember fishing accessories, but explained that the waste was sent to Germany and China for recycling. Collins expressed his anger to the police, but said he had already gotten over the loss. The CAB, which has received the court order to confiscate it, is currently less relaxed, but is unable to carry it out.
At this point you can of course speculate. Did Collins have time to generate a paper wallet after his arrest? If he did it before – how did the police know about his Bitcoin treasure? Did he have a watch-only wallet on his PC?
And, anyway, how does the police want to know that Collins told the truth? Who prints 52 million euros on a sheet of paper that is then only kept in a simple copy in an aluminum can that contains fishing rods – objects that are designed to come into contact with water, which in turn has a highly harmful effect on paper Has? Wouldn’t it be more conceivable that Collins still has a paper wallet – maybe he knows a seed? Or that he kept copies of the wallets in a locker or with a friend and is now looking forward to returning to his freedom as a multimillionaire after his imprisonment ends?
It would be conceivable that Bitcoin would make it impossible for the police to confiscate values here, even though the police have the coins right in front of them. Under the rule of law, the police would have no way of preventing the dealer from leaving prison after serving his sentence as a rich man.