A South Korean man has been hit with a host of penalties after a court found him guilty of buying narcotics online – using Bitcoin (BTC).
News1 reported that the 43-year-old but unnamed for legal reasons was convicted by a branch of the Chuncheon District Criminal Court for violating drug management laws.
The court heard the man purchased methamphetamine (also known as crystal meth) a total of eight times between August 13, 2020 and April this year. In each case, the man paid the dealers in bitcoins.
Presiding judge Song Jong-seon sentenced the man to a 10-month suspended prison sentence, in addition to three years probation. The man was also ordered to complete a 40-hour drug treatment course and fined nearly $2,190.
South Korea’s crackdown on BTC-fueled drug trafficking
South Korea has some of the strictest drug laws in the world. But – until recently – the police had found themselves outmaneuvered by tech-savvy drug dealers. Use of darkweb portalsbuyers were able to find the contact details of the sellers.
Then, using the Telegram messaging app, they set up payments – all done in BTC and altcoins. These are then followed by “no way out” deliveries, during which dealers visit public places and leave bags of narcotics in hidden nooks and crannies.
The police have since spent funds on crypto surveillance tools which they claim have helped them secure multiple convictions.
In the case of the 43-year-old, the court heard how, on one occasion this year, he contacted a drug dealer via Telegram before paying 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 suspected of trafficking drugs including ketamine, cannabis and MDMA (ecstasy) using the Telegram app and bitcoin wallets.