Federal Officer Faces Charges for Allegedly Stealing Crypto Associated With Drug Fortune

A federal police officer is currently undergoing legal proceedings in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, facing allegations of pocketing confiscated cryptocurrency from an online drug trafficking syndicate.

The committal hearing, presided over by Magistrate Malcolm Thomas, is ongoing, with the defendant’s lawyer saying the case was “circumstantial” and they would dispute the accusations.

Drug Trafficking Raid Unveiled Crypto

William Wheatley, the currently suspended federal police officer, was initially charged in December 2022. According to court documents, Wheatley is accused of stealing 81.616 Bitcoin from a cryptocurrency wallet that was found during an investigation into drug and steroid trafficking via the postal system in January 2019.

During a raid, law enforcement discovered significant quantities of substances resembling steroids and an encrypted email service that was allegedly being used for drug transactions, with payments made in Bitcoin. Subsequently, a Trezor-brand hardware crypto wallet was found and handed over to the Icarus detectives.

Approximately three weeks later, the Icarus Taskforce, in charge of the raid, obtained approval from a magistrate to regain access to the digital wallet. Cyber Crime Squad Detective Sergeant Deon Achtypis, who was called to assist following the raid, gained access to the wallet on February 14 and found that 81.616 Bitcoin had been transferred from the wallet shortly after 5 pm on January 29 – four days after the device’s seizure.

The stolen amount, valued at around $450,000 at the time, was transferred to two additional digital wallets before its traceability was lost. Today, the same quantity of Bitcoin would be valued at over $6.3 million.

Investigation Reveals Officer’s Involvement

Investigators initially suspected that an associate of the drug traffickers orchestrated the movement of the funds. However, the case was reopened in 2021 when new tracing tools suggested the involvement of a police officer.

Detective Achtypis discovered that one of the relevant IP addresses was linked to the then-AFP headquarters in Melbourne, leading him to speculate that a police officer might have been involved in the crypto transfer.

Craig Gillespie, a crypto investigator based in Wales, was hired by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity to track and trace the funds. Gillespie confirmed that between January 29 and April 11, 2019, 28 transactions were conducted from the wallet on various crypto platforms. Some of these transactions were allegedly traced back to withdrawals deposited into Mr. Wheatley’s bank account between 2019 and September 2022.

During the proceedings, AFP officer Jesse Wyatt testified that he was the sole federal police officer present during the search in Hoppers Crossing on January 25. He admitted that when the cryptocurrency wallet was discovered, he was unaware of its nature and contacted Mr. Wheatley, described as a “specialist” in the AFP’s cybercrime division, for assistance.

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