Hash or hashrate? UK police mistake Bitcoin miners for cannabis farm

UK police thought they were raiding a cannabis farm but it was really an illegal Bitcoin mining operation.

In the UK, a raid on a suspected cannabis farm in Birmingham uncovered a Bitcoin mining operation illegally sapping electricity.

According to a press release, West Midlands police executed a drug warrant on May 18 as part of a wider crackdown on the local drug trade.

Officers found the Bitcoin miners after forcing entry into a unit on the Great Bridge Industrial Estate, Sandwell — a borough northwest of England’s second largest city. 

  • Police seized the tech even though it wasn’t what they expected (under the Proceeds of Crime Act).
  • Later checks with distributor Western Power showed the Bitcoin miners had bypassed the power supplier.
  • Authorities say more than 100 Bitcoin miners were using thousands of dollars worth of stolen electricity.
‘Cannabis farm’ image courtesy of West Midlands Police.

Bitcoin mining is the new cannabis farming

Before obtaining the warrant, West Midlands police said their intelligence meant the property ticked all the right boxes for a cannabis farm.

  • People were spotted visiting the unit at different times of the day. 
  • The building featured lots of wiring and ventilation ducts.
  • A police drone picked up a “considerable heat source” from the roof.

“It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up and I believe it’s only the second such crypto mine we’ve encountered in the West Midlands,” said Sandwell Police Sergeant Jennifer Griffin.

However, officers were more successful in other operations relating to the cannabis crackdown, making 84 arrests and confiscating weapons from a total of 50 warrants. 

‘Cannabis farm’ image courtesy of West Midlands Police.

[Read more: NA and EU will lead global Bitcoin hashrate, predicts Chinese mining CEO]

No arrests have been made in connection with the Bitcoin mining hub in question, but West Midlands police say they’ll be making inquiries with the owner. 

Prefer to listen to your news? The Protos Podcast delivers the week’s top stories every Friday.

Was this article interesting? Share it