British Bitcoin Drug Dealer Must Pay Back £1.8 Million

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  • British drug dealer who made over £2 million has been ordered to pay £1.8 million back
  • 22.7 was recovered by police during a raid in 2018 and sold for £300,000
  • Case is one of “only a handful” involving cryptocurrencies

A British drug dealer who sold class A and class B drugs in return for Bitcoin has been ordered to pay back £1.8 million ($2.3 million) of his criminal earnings, two years after his 22.7 earnings were seized and sold by police. The case represents one of a very small number of drug trafficking cases featuring cryptocurrency in the UK, with cash still the preferred medium.

£300,000 in Seized Bitcoin Sold by Police

Paul Johnson, 32, of Northampton, England, was arrested in December 2017 after police executed a search warrant on his property, suspecting him of being a player in a worldwide drug trafficking racket. The search resulted in the seizure of a variety of substances including MDMA, LSD, and heroin, alongside a laptop with Bitcoin wallets containing 22.7.

Johnson admitted that Bitcoin had been his chosen payment method for the drugs, thinking that dealing solely in the cryptocurrency would keep him one step ahead of the police. However, he managed to simultaneously undermine his plan by purchasing a house and several cars with the proceeds of his crimes, alerting the authorities to his activities in the process.

“Handful” of Drug Trafficking Cases Involving Bitcoin

Johnson’s seized Bitcoin was eventually sold for £300,000 ($400,000) in 2018, which represented a small percentage of the £2 million ($2.53 million) that police calculated that he made through his enterprise. Leicestershire police announced yesterday that, alongside Johnson’s eight-year prison sentence, he has to pay back over £1.8 million, with his vehicles and property all being sold to raise the money.

Despite mainstream media constantly associating drug trafficking with Bitcoin, police running the case stated that it was “one of a handful of cases nationally where cryptocurrency has been used in this way”, meaning that the vast majority of the UK’s £10.7 billion drug trafficking market still uses cash.