A massive cannabis farm raided by UK police turned out to be a bitcoin mine
- When UK police raided what they suspected was a cannabis farm, they discovered a crypto mine instead.
- Police said the mine said was stealing thousands of pounds worth of electricity from the main supply.
- "It's certainly not what we were expecting," the police said in a statement.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
When police in West Midlands in the United Kingdom raided what they suspected was a cannabis farm on May 18, they instead discovered a cryptocurrency mine that was stealing thousands of pounds worth of electricity from the main supply.
"It's certainly not what we were expecting," Sandwell Police Sergeant Jennifer Griffin, said in a statement.
British police were alerted of numerous people visiting the location at different times of the day. Wiring and ventilation ducts that were visible and voluminous also raised concerns. Following these suspicions, the police flew a drone above the location, which picked up a considerable heat source from above.
"It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up," Griffin said.
But upon entry, they discovered a bank of around 100 computer units as part of what's understood to be a bitcoin mining operation. Griffin said this is believed to be the only second such crypto mine British police have encountered in the region.
"We've seized the equipment and will be looking into permanently seizing it under the Proceeds of Crime Act," Griffin said. "No one was at the unit at the time of the warrant and no arrests have been made - but we'll be making enquiries with the unit's owner."
Cryptocurrency mining has long been criticised due to its heavy energy use and environmental impact. Research, including a study from Cambridge University, has shown that bitcoin mining around the world uses more energy each year than some entire nations.
"My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal but clearly extracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is," Griffin said.
Western Power, the electricity distribution operator for the Midlands, revealed that thousands of pounds worth of energy had been stolen to power the mine, bypassing the normal electric supply.
More and more governing bodies have raised concerns about the massive energy consumption needed to mine cryptocurrencies.
On May 26, Iran has banned cryptocurrency mining over the summer ahead of an anticipated surge in electricity demand.
China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on May 19 doubled down on its crypto-mining ban by setting up a hotline for the general public to report suspected activity.
Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you
Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.