Britain’s Pablo Escobar to Be Released From Prison but ‘Banned’ From Using Bitcoin (Report)
Curtis Warren – a British drug lord who was found guilty of smuggling cannabis – is due to be released from prison next month.
The authorities, though, will supposedly put him back behind bars for five years if he uses WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or interacts with cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin.
Strict Measures to Stay on the Loose
Warren (also known as “Britain’s Pablo Escobar”) has been a problematic figure for the European authorities for the past decades. In 1996, the Dutch police caught him importing drugs from Colombia to Europe, and was set behind bars for 12 years.
Shortly after his release, he participated in another massive narcotics distribution in the United Kingdom. British law enforcement agents, though, detected the crime, and Warren went to prison once again – this time for 13 years.
A recent coverage by The Times revealed that the wrongdoer’s sentence is due next month. However, the authorities will require him to abide by several strict rules to stay out of prison. He should never hold any cryptocurrencies and refrain from using messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
To prevent any future drug schemes, Warren will be allowed to have only one mobile phone, one Sim card, and one telephone number. He won’t be able to possess more than $1,000 in cash, while agents will monitor whether he borrows or transfers money.
While the authorities’ intentions might be to ban Warren from using Bitcoin, the technology behind it is designed to make these exact attempts futile.
Bitcoin’s blockchain represents a public ledger with no single authority having control over who gets to use it. That’s why many refer to it as “immutable” as in authorities, even governments or central banks, are unable to censor people. Anyone is able to create a BTC wallet (which is pseudonymous) and freely transact on the network.
However, they could blacklist Warren and prevent cryptocurrency exchanges from opening an account on his name.
Bitcoin’s Role in Drug Affairs
While there is no proof that Warren used cryptocurrencies in his illicit activities, this is not the case with several other drug lords and organizations.
In March, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) noted that an increasing number of Mexican and Colombian cartels had turned their focus toward digital assets. According to the allegations, infamous gangs such as Jalisco New Generation Cartel and Sinaloa Cartel laundered some of their crime money by purchasing small amounts of bitcoin.
Several months later, the West Yorkshire authorities sent the British resident Simon Barclay to prison for nine years after he pleaded guilty to running a drug scheme using cryptocurrencies.
Shortly after, India’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested Makarand Pardeep Adivirkar, a.k.a. “The Crypto King,” who allegedly bought drugs from the Darknet using BTC.
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I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.