Dutch arrest 10 in international bitcoin investigation

Technology concept: hex-code digital backgroundTen people were arrested in the Netherlands on Tuesday in connection with a major international investigation into bitcoins, the public prosecution department said on Wednesday.

Police and tax investigators raided 15 addresses across the country, including homes in Rotterdam, Dordrecht, The Hague and Putten. They seized a quantity of cash, luxury cars and chemicals used to make the party drug ecstasy.

All 10 people arrested are young men in their early 20s, the department said in a statement. One of the main suspects comes from Lithuania while several others have Moroccan nationality.

The investigation began when police were tipped off by unnamed banks about large cash deposits which were then quickly withdrawn via ATMs.

Dark web

The suspects are all thought to have been involved in trading via the ‘dark web’ – parts of the internet that cannot be accessed using traditional search engines and which host websites used to trade drugs and weapons. Bitcoins are a common payment method.

Some of the young men arrested are said to be traders, others ‘bitcoin cashers’ – people who trade bitcoins online and then withdraw real money from ATMs so turning the virtual currency into actual cash.

Officials in the US, Australia, Lithuania and Morocco were also involved in the investigation and helped identify bitcoin accounts, which have since been sequestered.