South Australian police have charged an Adelaide man for drug trafficking and money laundering offences allegedly committed on the so-called dark web.

Key points:

  • An Adelaide Hills man has been arrested for drug trafficking and money laundering involving cryptocurrency
  • SA Police allege the man was operating several different profiles on the dark web selling a variety of illicit drugs
  • Police say they seized $1.5 million in cryptocurrency as well as cash, drugs and electronic devices

Police will allege the 25-year-old man from the Adelaide Hills was operating several vendor profiles on the dark web selling a variety of drugs.

Detective Superintendent Adam Rice said the synthetic opioid “nitazene” was among the drugs allegedly seized, something which was “particularly of concern”.

“They are highly toxic drugs, similar to fentanyl, but which have never been approved for human consumption and they have huge risk of overdose,” he said.

Detective Superintendent Rice said while the nitazene allegedly seized was still to be tested and weighed, police believe the quantities found — about 5 kilograms — was “the largest seized in Australia to date”.

SA Health released warnings about protonitazene in July after two confirmed overdoses and another two suspected cases, including one death where the drug was “suspected to have played a role”.

Superintendent Rice said there was “no information to suggest there is a direct link” between the alleged dark web vendor and the death.

SA Police allegedly seized “tens of thousands” in cash in addition to $1.5 million in cryptocurrency.(Supplied: SA Police)

Superintendent Rice said an investigation was set up early this year to target the activity of an online dark web vendor trafficking in illicit drugs.

“The investigation identified illicit activity on a dark web marketplace, attributed that activity to a real-life person in South Australia, identified and traced cryptocurrency used in the offending and then ultimately led to a successful search and seizure operation,” he said.

Superintendent Rice said police searched a residential address and two storage units in the Hills in September and seized a “large quantity” of illicit drugs, cash, cryptocurrency and electronic devices.

Superintendent Rice said the operation netted the accused a significant amount of money, with payment allegedly made in cryptocurrency.

“Currently we’ve seized about $1.5 million in cryptocurrency, and smaller amounts of cash, tens of thousands in cash,” he said.

SA Police said the 25-year-old man has been remanded in custody and will appear in court at a later date.