Argentina’s national tax authority broke up an undeclared crypto mining farm in a so-called “mega operation” leading to the arrest of 40 people, marking the latest action in a series of crypto-related crackdowns there.
The tax authority, which goes by AFIP in Spanish, worked with local agencies to conduct 70 raids, it said in a statement. It seized more than 100 cell phones and SIM cards, cash, cars, firearms, computers and assorted office equipment such as memory cards, flash drives and printers.
The mining farm allegedly operated out of a shed in the municipality of Quilmes, about 12 miles southeast of the city of Buenos Aires. The farm was operating with stolen cables, and authorities investigated the alleged theft of electricity to mask the crypto mining activities.
AFIP has ramped up investigations related to digital asset operations since its director Carlos Castagneto stepped into his role in late July.
The agency announced in September that it had discovered three crypto mining sites that allegedly hid their mining operations by not properly declaring their activities.
The AFIP said it has specialized areas of the organization that can detect undeclared crypto farms around the country based on high electricity levels.
“Through these in-person verifications, agents verify the existence of the corresponding import documentation for equipment and the correct registration of both the mining activity and income received,” AFIP said in a statement.
While the Argentine government’s crackdown on crypto mining seems to center on undeclared operations and equipment, recent raids have raised questions about whether mining is legal at all. To clarify, the nonprofit organization ONG Bitcoin Argentina has communicated the message that crypto mining in itself is not a crime when it adheres to local laws.
“Cryptocurrency mining is not a crime defined by the criminal code, so it is not an activity that in itself can be considered clandestine or illegal,” ONG Bitcoin Argentina wrote in a Sept. 27 blog post.