Venezuelan Prison Unveils Hidden Bitcoin Mining Operation
On September 20, a significant event unfolded in Venezuela as approximately 11,000 Venezuelan soldiers reestablished authority over the Tocorón prison, which had been controlled by the criminal faction known as the Tren de Aragua.
Within the confines of this facility, an unusual array of amenities was uncovered, including a nightclub, a swimming pool, a small zoo, a playground, and even a Bitcoin (BTC) mining operation comprising numerous Bitcoin mining machines.
According to a report by BBC News dated September 21, the inmates at Tocorón were engaged in a wide range of activities. They could place bets on horse races, manage loans through an improvised banking system, and revel in the nightclub known as ‘Tokio.’ Remarkably, during the height of Venezuela’s economic turmoil, when essential goods were scarce, locals reportedly resorted to visiting Tocorón prison to acquire necessities that were otherwise unavailable.
The Tocorón prison had gained notoriety as the hub of operations for the Tren de Aragua criminal gang. An AFP News report in Spanish aptly described it as functioning like a small city, complete with its own banking agency.
The question arises: Who bore the cost of the electricity required for the Bitcoin mining operation within the prison? Bitcoin mining, renowned for its substantial energy consumption in securing the network through Proof of Work (PoW) and hashrate, demands a considerable amount of power.
Curiously, the source of the electricity for the prison remains undisclosed. Speculation among Reddit users suggests that the Venezuelan government may have subsidized it as part of public expenditures related to Tocorón.
An intriguing aspect noted by a Reddit user in the r/cryptocurrency community is that the machines discovered might actually be Litecoin (LTC) mining machines, potentially offering higher profitability to the criminals, given the energy consumed.
It remains uncertain whether the prison’s energy supply continued uninterrupted during the criminal gang’s tenure or if they were illicitly tapping into external energy sources. Notably, no Bitcoin or cryptocurrency wallets were confiscated during the operation.