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The police operation, seeking to find a cannabis plantation, ended up finding a cryptocurrency mine that was stealing electricity from the national grid.
British police have discovered signs of a hemp farm: heavy use of electricity, lots of cables and holes. There, however, he discovered another illegal operation: a cryptocurrency “miner” was stealing electricity from the national grid.
A West Midlands police raid exposed the operation in an industrial area northwest of Birmingham, the second largest city in the United Kingdom. “This is definitely not what we expected,” Sgt. Jennifer Griffin said on Friday. “He had everything to grow cannabis and I think he was the second cryptocurrency mine of this type to be found in the West Midlands,” he added.
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He added that police believed this facility was mining bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin operate thanks to a decentralized system: Autonomous computer networks verify transactions all over the world.
Participants, or “miners,” use powerful processors to create complex equations that show their participation and automatically receive bitcoins, which is an energy-intensive activity. The police said in a statement that “many people were visiting the site, and there were many cables and visible ports, and a drone discovered a large heat source.”
Griffin explained that “as far as I know, cryptocurrency mining is not illegal per se, but electricity theft is illegal,” noting that there were no arrests because the place was empty. Converting electricity into Bitcoin can be a very lucrative business: Last year, Bitcoin gained nearly 400% and on Friday it sold for around $ 37,000.
But its heavy consumption of electricity means that “mining”, as the manufacturing process is known, is not widespread in Europe. Its environmental footprint also led Tesla founder Elon Musk to refuse payments in cryptocurrency for his electric cars. According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI), bitcoin mines consume about 114 terawatt hours (terawatt hours, or trillion watts), or 0.5% of the world’s electricity production.