Bitcoin.Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP/TT

Swedish criminals using Bitcoin to sell drugs

The virtual currency known as bitcoin is becoming increasingly popular as a means to buy and sell drugs among criminals in Sweden. The newspaper Dagens Nyheter found that bitcoin has been fundamental in six drugs trafficking cases prosecuted in courts in Sweden in the past year.

On several occasions, the convicted perpetrators bought and / or sold drugs over the internet and used bitcoin as payment. In one case in Haparanda District Court in December, four people were sentenced to prison for their involvement in a drug smuggling ring. When police went through a computer that belonged to a 23-year-old man, described as a driving force in the gang, they found  around a hundred transactions and a large amount of bitcoin.

"He has handled around SEK 500 000.Then how much of it has increased in value it is hard to say. Bitcoin has gone up in value a lot," said prosecutor Lindha Strömberg to DN.

The man's bitcoin was stored in three different virtual wallets on his computer. The wallets were encrypted and required a password to get into. DN writes that like in most other criminal cases it has researched, the trade in drugs was handled via the "deep web" marketplace known as the  " Silk Road ", which was shut down by the FBI in October 2013.

In Haparanda, the case resulted in the 23-year-old voluntarily giving up the passwords to the virtual wallets . Had he not done so, it would have been difficult for police and prosecutors to resolve the case, according to Lindha Strömberg.

The virtual currency bitcoin allows individuals to conduct transactions without going through an intermediary. They can be traded with complete anonymity. The FBI has gone on record as saying that because bitcoin combines cryptography and a peer-to-peer architecture, law enforcement agencies have more difficulty identifying suspicious users and obtaining transaction records.

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