Venezuelan police officers reported that they had arrested two men that had been carrying nine ASIC mining devices. Even though cryptocurrency mining is legal in the South American country, some cases of police extortion have occurred.
It was reported on a local portal on Thursday, September 18th, 2019, that two people had been arrested in a sector of Aragua State in Venezuela for allegedly carrying specialized ASIC cryptocurrency mining equipment without the proper documentation.
According to the report, Carlos Jesús Almeida Morgado was pursued by a police commission for evading a checkpoint in a route in the Libertador Municipality of Aragua State. The car in which he was traveling was intercepted and searched by Poliaragua officers, who found on board nine cryptocurrency mining devices, as well as some accessories.
The arrested man could not present any purchase invoices or legal documentation of the equipment to the police officers. It was stated on the portal that the authorities proceeded with the arrest as Almeida behaved aggressively toward the police officers.
The second arrest took place at the office of the police commission in charge of the case. According to the police officers, when the first arrested man’s brother Jorge Luis Almeida Morgado arrived, he demanded that the equipment be returned, also behaving violently. Jorge Luis Almeida either did not present the documentation required by the authorities to return the ASIC cryptocurrency miners.
Among the seized devices, the authorities reported nine Bitmain-brand Bitcoin mining devices, in their S9 and T10 versions, nine corresponding Bitmain brand power supplies, and eight power cables.
It should be noted that cryptocurrency mining is a legal activity in Venezuela. At the end of 2017, the authorities opened a registry of cryptocurrency miners and granted “digital mining” certificates a couple of months later. However, there have been multiple cases of illegal seizure of that kind of equipment or extortion by police authorities against those who are engaged in this activity. Even in the past, Venezuelan the authorities of the cryptocurrency sector admitted the existence of police abuse against miners.
Many miners have offered testimonies in which they state that that cryptocurrency mining in Venezuela has become a risky activity. Some others have reported that police officers have demanded that they give them cash payments “in order not to seize their equipment.”
Actually, some experienced cryptocurrency miners say that the estimate of the profitability of this activity in the South American country includes costs for the loss of “seized” equipment and the payment of extortion. In addition, despite the fact that the activity is legal in Venezuela, miners are forced to do it clandestinely and the costs inherent in migrating the entire operation to another location must be considered, once it is detected by the authorities.
To conclude, cryptocurrency miners have to face many limitations in Venezuela. Among them, they are forced to use unstable electricity and Internet services, which hinder the proper operation of their equipment. Besides, they suffer extortion by some unscrupulous public workers that want to take advantage of their effort to obtain some extra income to cope with the current hyperinflation in the country.
By Willmen Blanco