During a raid on a national jail dated September 21, the authorities and officials of the Government of Venezuela were surprised to discover Bitcoin miners, among several other strange stuff. To free the Tocoron National Penitentiary in the Aragua state from the jurisdiction of Tren de Aragua (Spanish for ‘Aragua’s Train’), the gang that ran the complex, an assembly of 11,000 military and police personnel took part in this operation. According to the authorities, Tocoron will close, and more than 1,600 prisoners will be moved to other national facilities.
On Thursday, the security personnel moved in to secure the area and contain all threats, backed up by armored vehicles and tanks. The officers and soldiers reported about an unspecified number of Bitcoin miners whom they witnessed holed up in a room that acted as a mining farm. There also exists a video verifying their claims and showing the aftermath of the raid, during which an officer lost his life while performing his duties. Aside from C4 mines, the cops also discovered rocket launchers, grenades, firearms, and ammo during the operation. But the most intriguing of all is probably that the Venezuelan authorities find Bitcoin miners in jail.
An Exotic Prison
After Venezuelan authorities found Bitcoin miners in jail, their reports also described the facility as having other peculiarities, including a discotheque where inmates hosted extravagant parties, swimming pools, a baseball stadium, and even a temporary zoo. The zoo’s tigers, lions, crocodiles, and pumas were intended to serve as a symbolic insult to undermine the authority of government officials and other imprisoned people.
The prison also had a nightclub called Tokio (the Spanish version of the name for the Japanese metropolis), where the inmates frequently partied, as well as a restaurant where prisoners and tourists would eat together. The complex additionally contained bicycles, ice cream vendors, cafeterias, and a playground – according to Venezuelan journalist Rosibel Gonzalez.
Ever since the Venezuelan cryptocurrency watchdog Sunacrip was stopped by an interceptive action of the national government more than six months ago, the registered and legal Bitcoin miners have been kept in the dark and devoid of any necessary information. This remains true even after the news of the Tocoron detainees having an illegal micro-mining farm in the penitentiary complex received nationwide exposure.
After Venezuelan authorities found Bitcoin miners in jail in what could be called a perplexing incident, Juan Blanco Bracamonte doubted the existence of these crypto mining farms in a place the likes of a national prison. He is a former Bitcoin miner who stopped working as a cryptocurrency dealer as a result of Sunacrip’s interference. In a media press release, Bracamonte has been recorded as saying, “Several questions arise for me as a digital miner who carried out this economic activity until this year. Who authorized the placement of that farm? Who managed the farm? What wallet did those funds go to? Who authorized the electrical availability? Did they pay for electricity consumption?”
As Venezuelan authorities find Bitcoin miners in jail, the transpiring situation has become sensitive because many eyebrows have been raised with concerns for the status quo of law and order in the country. The majority of the Venezuelan public now regards this exposé as a matter of great national shame and as another embarrassing pointer towards the overall sorry state of the country’s socio-polity.
Alejandro Blanco, the legal representative for the national cryptocurrency group Asonacrip, justified Sunacrip’s actions in an interview with Criptonoticias as jeopardizing miners who had to dedicate time, finances, and know-how in “complying with the current legal system.”
Previously, Joselit Ramirez, the former CEO of Sunacrip, was detained for allegedly taking part in a $20+ billion corruption scam involving the exchange of oil for cryptocurrencies to evade economic sanctions. Since then, the state power utility, Corpoelec, has disconnected registered Bitcoin farms from the grid.