In a bizarre case, UK police stopped an illegal Bitcoin mining operation while attempting to eliminate cannabis operations, local daily Birmingham Live reported today. The police had discovered more than 100 mining rigs.

Out for Marijuana, back to Bitcoin

Police were using a drone with an attached heat chamber to explore a location suspected of running a full-blown cannabis company. They were acting based on an advisory about cables entering the facility and human movement in and out of the unit, but what they found was a Bitcoin mining plant in its place, one that allegedly stole thousands of pounds of electricity to mine the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.

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It’s not what we expected. 

It’s certainly not what we expected. It had all the makings of a cannabis growing facility and I think it is only the second crypto mine of its kind that we found in the West Midlands,” Sandwell Police Sgt., Jennifer Griffin said in a statement.

Cryptocurrency mining is not illegal in itself, but it clearly draws electricity from the electrical grid to power it.“

How Much Electricity is too Much? 

Mining, for the uninitiated, uses a massive computer system that solves millions of complex calculations every second to validate transactions on the Bitcoin network (a process known as ‘proof of work’).

This requires enormous amounts of energy for the maintenance, cooling, operation of the machines. The activity has come under massive scrutiny in recent months, mainly due to the alleged amounts of electricity used to power such operations, and illegal miners are trying to capitalize on it.

There have been many cases in the past where people steal electricity to power mines, earn Bitcoin rewards, and pocket a large chunk of the revenue (since minus energy bills, the cost of operating a mining unit drops dramatically).

Inquiries with Western Power, the region’s energy provider, revealed that the supply of electricity had been stopped and computers were seized.

We have seized the equipment and will seek to seize it permanently under the Assets of Crime Act. No one was in the unit at the time of the warrant and no arrests have been made, but we will make inquiries with the owner of the unit,” Griffin said.

No one was in the unit at the time of the warrant and no arrests have been made, but we will make inquiries with the owner of the unit,” he added.

 

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