A student hailing from Diponegoro University in Semarang, Indonesia has been aTop of FormBottom of Form Arrested by law enforcement after he bought ecstasy pills online.
The said student reportedly used Bitcoin in the transaction to obtain nine ecstasy pills, which he ordered from the Netherlands.
This is a report which has been compiled by the law enforcement agency that was involved in the investigation.
It is not yet clear what the student intended to do with the pills—whether they were for his personal use or sale, it remains a puzzle yet to be solved.
The student was arrested near his boarding house on March 26 as he went about with his usual business.
It might have come as a surprise to him as he thought the method used would guarantee him anonymity.
According to the police officers, the suspect had bought the drugs, which were worth $56, from a source in the Netherlands. It is said that he used the Netherlands route rather than that of Indonesia because of the price difference.
Tri Agus Heru Prasetyo, who heads the Central Java Narcotics Agency, noted in a public statement that the use of Bitcoins to buy drugs has become popular with criminals.
This is after several criminals have been arrested on similar charges of using cryptocurrencies to transact illegal businesses.
It raises a simple question—have cryptocurrency transactions ceased to become anonymous?
It is a question that can only be answered by first studying blockchain technology and the growth involved with cryptocurrencies.
Blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger of peer-to-peer transactions.
It may be programmed to record virtually everything of value, but it’s most commonly used in financial transactions.
The information found on the blockchain is purely public as it’s not stored in one server location but found and verifiable by the general user base. This makes blockchain one of the most trusted modes of transactions ever used.
Since the invention of Bitcoin in 2008, blockchain has worked with a minimal glitch in its day-to-day operations.
With lots of computers worldwide involved in the verification of the transactions, accountability is of highest order.
There are different entities involved once a transaction is initiated to a receiver’s address, which does not have any form of personal description. First, there are nodes that maintain its blockchain version and update it to better versions.
Having this in mind, Bitcoin in the blockchain does not use personal information to be sent from one user to the next.
Initially, this helped criminals in doing their business with the promise of staying anonymous as no personal details, including the user’s IP address, were left in the transaction.
It was long-believed that Bitcoin transactions were anonymous, which gave criminals a cutting edge to hide in the dark web.
But the Federal Bureau of Investigation was not pleased with that, and the agency started its study on the blockchain to unveil the hidden section of the transactions to bring down darknet crimes.
It did not take long after Bitcoins’ invention for cybercrime rates to hit the highest level in history.
Darknet markets like Silk Road started thriving, which made drug dealers enjoy the serene working environment.
The FBI, in collaboration with other international law enforcement agencies, started looking deeper into Bitcoin and its blockchain.
This involved fetching data from different server hosts that operated on the basis of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (altcoins).
The feds then started to understand that once they identified only one transaction at a given time and analyzed it according to the value of the drugs, it would be an easy task in unmasking the previous illegal operations associated with the address.
One by one, darknet drug dealers started being arrested simply on the basis of using Bitcoin to facilitate transactions.
This is seen by the taken down of Hansa Market, which was taken over by the Dutch police back in 2017.
The Dutch police studied the Bitcoin transaction address used by the two administrators to get more information on their servers and location.
According to a classified report provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the U.S. National Security Agency has been working on tracking Bitcoin users around the world.
Different Bitcoin users may fall into the trap and find themselves in the hands of the police for the wrong reason.
In this case, where an Indonesian student used Bitcoin to buy drugs through the Netherlands, there are different loopholes that law enforcement might have used.
During the process of shipping, the Indonesian police could have followed the stated address on the package only after understanding it contained a supply of drugs.
This could be made possible when the police collaborated with the postal service or the shipping company involved.
The other loophole likely used by law enforcement to trap the young student was studying the transactions of Bitcoins made through a suspected address.
Since the said student had bought similar drugs the previous year with the same method, it’s likely the police were closely watching the transactions made by the address and any possible illegal activity involved.
Using either of the above, the law enforcement agents apprehended the suspect with the ecstasy pills. It makes the case easier to rule as enough evidence has been collected and ready to be presented to the court.
It may be a lesson to many other drug criminals out there not to hide in the dark web using cryptocurrencies.
But on the contrary, the drug sale business is booming having the market growth around the world expanding at an unfathomable rate.
This attracts more and more criminals to enter the business and use darknet markets like Wall Street Market, Dream Market and others to sell and buy anonymously.
A similar case of students involved in the lucrative drug business was recently uncovered when five students from the University of Manchester were arrested after selling drugs worth over $1 million.
These five students used Bitcoin to traffic drugs on the dark web which saw their ringleader imprisoned for 15 years.
It is expected methods ways will be devised by the drug traffickers who will stop at nothing until they get extra cash from conducting illegal operations online.
At the moment, the Indonesian student will be waiting for a court hearing as he remains in police custody. Hoping for a fair trial, the police will continue with their investigations to find more concrete evidence in the case.