In brief

  • US Police ran a sting operation on a man purchasing meth on the dark web using Bitcoin.
  • The police are seizing guns and ammunition from the dealer's property.
  • He was a convicted felon and shouldn't have been able to buy guns.

US authorities ran a sting operation on James Coughlin, New Hampshire, California, that saw him pay for the drug methamphetamine (meth) with Bitcoin, court documents show.

In January 2020, law enforcement entered his house with a warrant and seized guns, ammunition and $2,400 of cash. A complaint filed on August 6 shows that, as a convicted felon, Coughlin should not have been able to purchase the weapons. It asks for the confiscated items to be seized and forfeited.

Coughlin came on the radar in 2018 after authorities intercepted a package bound for his address containing one pound of meth. Coughlin was immediately suspected as a drug dealer by cops at the time, who then planned an elaborate sting operation.


In October 2018, local enforcement officers planned and oversaw a controlled delivery of the meth package to Coughlin’s residence. After this wife, Lanna Spurlock, signed and received the delivery, police searched the property and found 8 grams of meth on the premises.

A year after that incident in September 2019, a confidential source told authorities that Coughlin ordered methamphetamine on the dark web—a part of the internet “invisible” to search engines like Google and run by anonymous servers. The source also confirmed that Coughlin paid for the product using Bitcoin.

Authorities then worked with the source to make seven controlled purchases of the meth packages from Coughlin’s residence. The product was then sent to labs for testing and came with a positive result (for meth) each time by the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Northeast Laboratory. This was the justification for the later entry.

And it just adds to the evidence that Bitcoin is not a wise tool for illicit activity.

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