Indonesian authorities crack down on ten Bitcoin (BTC) mining sites for stealing energy from the national grid to power mining operations in the country.
According to reports from local media outlets, the government moved in on ten crypto mining sites whose operations saw them tap into the utility poles of the state-owned electricity company.
Authorities of the state-owned electricity company, PLN noted that wider coordination was key to uncover the mining operation deriving electricity from the national grip without approval. According to the report, the Bitcoin mines cost the state 1.4 billion Indonesian rupees approximately $100,000.
1,300 Bitcoin machines seized
Apart from financial impacts on the state, the activities of illegal Bitcoin miners were also feared to impact environmental factors and the local community as some students requested the PLM and the regional police to investigate the activities of the mines.
“PLN then followed up on the information obtained and it turned out that the theft was true. Then, PLN officers from the Bukit Barisan Customer Service Implementation Unit (UP3) came to the location to take action. They received threats and resistance. For this reason, PLN is coordinating closely with the police, namely the North Sumatra Regional Police.”
The raid uncovered 1,300 BTC mining machines used for illegal operations with one machine billed to consume 1,800 watts. Inspector General Agung Effendi, the North Sumatra Police Chief noted that the incident has been going on for an estimated six months with 26 people arrested from the ten locations.
The PLN further assured all stakeholders to continue their collaborations with the police to prevent further electricity theft and protect the national grid.
Authorities bemoan crypto’s energy use
In recent years, the high energy usage of digital asset miners has been at the fore of public policy debates with climate activists citing harm to the environment. At the same time, government officials say miners affect the total distribution network if not properly regulated.
Indonesia is not the first country to conduct crypto mining raids as similar cases have been recorded on several continents with authorities accusing miners of running huge operations without registration.
In Malaysia, multiple arrests have been made in connection to digital assets mines while in Venezuela, Bitcoin machines and weapons were seized from a prison recaptured by authorities from a gang.
The raid involved over 11,000 police and soldiers and discovered rifles and explosives including Bitcoin mining hardware. The Indonesian incident is the first in the country with energy theft charges punishable with up to five years in prison or 200% of the stolen energy value.
In Kazakhstan, regulators have sought to limit the amount of energy miners can have access from the national grid unless they operate solar-powered mines.
Indonesia has a pro-crypto population and looks to regulate the space further. The country has mandated all crypto exchanges to register with the Commodity Futures Exchange (CFX) to continue operations after August 2024.