An investigation by Spanish authorities into the illegal distribution of paid television content has resulted in the seizure and destruction of six bitcoin mines used to launder proceeds from the alleged scheme.
European law enforcement agency Europol, which took part in the investigation, said today that 30 individuals had been arrested during an operation on 18th May. Thirty-eight homes across seven Spanish cities, including Madrid, were searched during the event, according to the agency.
According to Reuters, those operating the bitcoin mines based in Spain were stealing power to fuel those efforts, citing a statement from Spanish police. Discovery of the bitcoin mines reportedly occurred as Spanish tax authorities investigated the alleged scheme.
Mining is an energy intensive process of confirming transactions on bitcoin’s public ledger, the blockchain. Money is made when the proceeds from selling bitcoins (or other cryptocurrencies) exceeds the cost of the electricity used.
Among the items seized: roughly $35,000 in bitcoin, ten luxury vehicles and a private aircraft. Authorities also seized about 184,000 euros, as well as nearly 50,000 decoders used to access otherwise restricted TV content.
Further, a photo included with Europol’s release shows several of the machines seized from one of the mines.
Europol said that the alleged effort to distribute paid-for TV content stretched across the globe, involving decoder exporters from China as well as a network of servers based throughout Europe.
“This operation shows that these types of crimes are not left unpunished,” Michael Rauschenbach, head of serious and organized crime for Europol, said in a statement.
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