West Midlands: Illegal Bitcoin mine powered by stolen electricity uncovered at suspected cannabis farm
Written by Hitmix News on 28 May 2021
An illegal cryptocurrency mine has been uncovered following a raid on what police thought was a cannabis farm.
About 100 machines were found at an industrial unit in Sandwell in the West Midlands, with thousands of pounds of electricity thought to have been stolen to keep the operation going.
Officers raided the site on 18 May after obtaining a warrant when evidence suggested it was being used to grow cannabis.
Image: The machines were found to be illegally drawing power. Pic: West Midlands Police
This included sending up a drone and noting the higher-than-normal temperatures at the complex.
However, upon entering the unit they discovered the bank of machines, with a bird’s nest of cables and heat venting ducts.
Officers from West Midlands Police believe the array was being used to mine the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
In order to “mine” a Bitcoin, a computer needs to carry out complex calculations that require a lot of time and electricity – generating a large amount of heat in the process.
The scale of power draw required for Bitcoin mining worldwide has been noted as an environmental concern.
A single Bitcoin is worth around £26,000 at the time of writing, although the price is notoriously volatile.
In a statement, West Midlands Police said: “We heard how lots of people were visiting the unit at different times of day, lots of wiring and ventilation ducts were visible, and a police drone picked up a considerable heat source from above.
“They are all classic cannabis factory signs – but when officers gained entry they found a huge bank of around 100 computer units as part of what’s understood to be a Bitcoin mining operation.
“The IT equipment was seized and enquiries with Western Power revealed the electric supply had been bypassed and thousands of pounds worth had been stolen to power the ‘mine’.”
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Why Tesla will no longer accept bitcoin
Sergeant Jennifer Griffin said: “It’s certainly not what we were expecting! 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.”
She added: “We’ve seized the equipment and will be looking into permanently seizing it under the Proceeds of Crime Act. 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.”