Turkish customs confiscate over 500 smuggled Bitcoin mining rigs

Turkish customs enforcements brought down an illegal smuggling operation in what is said to be a record bust against illegal Bitcoin (BTC) mining equipment in the country. 

After receiving a tip, Turkey’s Customs Protection’s anti-smuggling and intelligence teams raided a warehouse earlier this week in Karabağlar, İzmir, where they found 501 ASIC Bitcoin mining rigs in closed cardboard boxes. 

Customs enforcement reported the estimated value of the seized equipment at 5 million Turkish liras, or $600,000. Four suspects were detained as part of the investigation. Reports claim that law enforcement is carrying out another active operation in İstanbul, the biggest city and a major customs checkpoint in Turkey.

Application-Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs, are the most popular way to mine Bitcoin, but they are also known for their high electricity usage, a widely known issue that has caused Elon Musk to pull back on his decision to accept Bitcoin payments for Tesla cars.

Once known as a crypto-friendly country, Turkey has recently stepped up its monitoring of crypto frauds and transactions. Last month, Turkish crypto exchange Thodex halted operations with over $150-million missing, rendering thousands of users unable to access their funds.

Shortly after Turkish police detained 62 suspects in the Thodex investigation, another local exchange, Vebitcoin, shut down in the same manner.

More recently, the Turkish Minister of Treasury and Finance Lütfi Elvan announced that the Financial Crimes Investigation Board, or MASAK, has full authority to audit and oversee crypto exchanges. As a countermeasure for fraud and illegal money trafficking, any crypto exchange with a presence in Turkey is now obliged to inform MASAK about crypto transactions over 10,000 Turkish liras ($1,200).

Local blockchain and crypto experts agree that Turkey needs a clear regulatory framework to prevent fraud in the ecosystem.

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