India’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has arrested Makarand Pardeep Adivirkar, a Mumbai-based IT graduate, who allegedly used Bitcoin (BTC) to help drug dealers buy drugs from the dark web.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are frequently used as a medium of payment in the dark web. Buyers of illegal drugs would pay for their purchase in crypto and then receive the substance through the postal service.
Adivirkar, known as the ‘Crypto King’ in the underground drug circuit, reportedly facilitated these crypto-based transactions. He would receive cash from his clients and, in turn, use his crypto wallet to purchase the hallucinogenic drug LSD and other illicit substances from the darknet on their behalf. He would then receive a commission for his efforts.
“The dealer would transfer the amount to a friend’s bank account, and the friend would transfer it to a third person, who would withdraw cash and give it to [Adivirkar]”<…>”Then Adivirkar used his Bitcoin wallets to pay drug vendors in Poland and other European countries through the dark web,” said Sameer Wankhede, the zonal director of the NCB unit in Mumbai, according to Vice.
WazirX denies involvement with Adivirkar
Wankhede claimed that Adivirkar used many Bitcoin wallets on different crypto exchanges, including India’s biggest digital asset trading platform WazirX.
The exchange confirmed that it received an email from NCB inquiring about Adivirkar’s trading activities on its platform, but it denied any connection with the accused.
“Upon checking our records, we identified that the accused is not a WazirX user, and we communicated the same to the authorities on June 12, 2021,” WazirX posted on Twitter. “That being said, we want to reiterate that WazirX follows global best practices on KYC and AML compliances and has a robust transaction monitoring system in place. We perform a stringent KYC verification of every user to verify their identity.”
Suspicious Bitcoin transactions
Adivirkar was caught after NCB Mumbai seized 20 LSD blots from an Indian village in November 2020. They became suspicious because the substance was made in Europe and may have been procured from the darknet.
They were finally able to trace Adivirkar following an intelligence operation that discovered two suspicious transactions from his Bitcoin wallet.