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This article was published on April 26, 2019

Drug dealers who relied on Bitcoin’s ‘anonymity’ get 30 years behind bars


Drug dealers who relied on Bitcoin’s ‘anonymity’ get 30 years behind bars
Yessi Bello Perez
Story by

Yessi Bello Perez

Former Senior Writer, Growth Quarters

Members of a Bitcoin-fueled drug ring that used the dark web to import crystal meth into the UK have been sentenced to more than 30 years behind bars.

Most drugs were imported from Canada in a popular comparison website’s freebie toys. The group is believed to have sold more than 1 kilo of controlled drugs – including cocaine and ecstasy – worth tens of thousands of pounds during a fourth-month period in 2017.

Once sold, dealers distributed the substances to customers through a ‘ring-and-bring’ phone line.

Patrick Palmer, the prosecutor, said approximately $78,000 (£61,000) worth of drugs and at least $58,126 (£45,037) in cash were recovered.

Gang leader Hassan Jalilian, also known as either Josh or Neema, managed the operation from his then-girlfriend Cheryl Scott’s flat in Leeds, Yorkshire. He also recruited former addicts Michael Bendo and Gohar Manzoor to distribute and sell the drugs on the city’s streets.

Jalilian transformed a property in the outskirts of the city into a drug factory. He was in the midst of turning the facility into a gym as a decoy when Border Force officials intercepted various parcels containing drugs.

Jalilian was jailed for 11-and-a-half years and disqualified from driving for seven-and-a-half years. His ex girlfriend Scott was jailed for five years. 

Bendo got eight years, Manzoor seven and four months. Manzoor’s wife Razna Begum was handed a 12-month community order, and ordered to complete a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

We’ve covered many stories about criminals using Bitcoin for its purported anonymity, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have realized the cryptocurrency is anything but anonymous, and criminals almost always get caught.

Unlike cash, which is completely untraceable, Bitcoin transactions leave a trail on the blockchain, meaning law enforcement can follow the ‘money.’

It goes without saying that Bitcoin’s reputation has suffered significantly as a result of criminals using it to fund illicit activities, but let’s not forget that cash, which for some reason doesn’t suffer from the same branding problem, affords greater anonymity.

Ultimately, buying drugs with Bitcoin is a really bad idea.

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