Vancouver police have been accused of misleading a justice of the peace in a plot to seize $2.6 million (CAD$3.5 million) in Bitcoin owned by a dark web marijuana trafficker, CBC reports.
Authorities believe the Bitcoin, found on hard drives seized in 2013, to be the proceeds of illegal activity — specifically the selling of large amounts of cannabis via seminal dark web marketplace Silk Road.
On the other hand, the trafficker (D.A.L.) says investigators applied to keep the hard drives despite receiving separate orders to return them – allegations reportedly deemed “extremely serious” in a ruling this week.
In 2013, police were called to D.A.L.’s residence, where they found 14.5 kilograms of marijuana, scales, and vacuum sealers. D.A.L. was accused of selling weed for Bitcoin on Silk Road under the name MarijuanaisMyMuse.
D.A.L. plead guilty to possession for the purpose of trafficking in March 2015, and subsequently served nine months in prison.
It wasn’t until March 2017 that a court order was signed to have Vancouver police return D.A.L.’s property. Once it had been delivered, D.A.L. and his brother soon discovered their hard drives were still missing.
Two months later, authorities applied to keep the computer equipment, claiming it to be related to an investigation (or a trial).
Police then reportedly told D.A.L. they had seized the hard drives for forensic analysis, which uncovered 226.44 BTC ($2.6 million).
A British Columbia Supreme Court ruled the issue of the Bitcoin seizure must be heard before it can process the police’s civil forfeiture claim.
“The police committed fraud by deliberately failing to advise the justice of all the pertinent facts,” D.A.L. claimed. “The police deliberately and fraudulently misled, not only the justice who approved their application, but also counsel.”
If it’s found Vancouver police acted improperly, the Bitcoin is reportedly likely to return to its original owner.