Venezuela Cracks Down On Bitcoin Miners Amid Grid Concerns

2,300 Antminer S19J Pros were seized in a recent anti-graft operation

The Venezuelan government will disconnect “all cryptocurrency miners” from the national electricity grid as part of a new control plan, the national Ministry of Electrical Energy (MPPE) announced on Friday. 

The MPPE shared in a statement on X that the crackdown is attributed to the government’s concerns regarding the stability of the grid. However, mining operations using off-grid power capacity do not appear to be targeted.

This move follows the seizure of over 2,300 Antminer S19J Pro units last week in Maracay, located in north-central Venezuela. The bust, as reported by Últimas Noticias, is said to be linked to the Anti-Corruption Operation initiated by the government in March 2023.

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The anti-graft campaign previously led to the arrest of Joselit Ramírez, the former president of state oil and gas company PDVSA and former national superintendent of crypto assets (Sunacrip).

This operation led to the suspension of Sunacrip. It created additional regulatory uncertainty around cryptocurrencies in the country and prompted reports of large-scale bitcoin miners shutting down their operations.

Officials allege that PDVSA and Sunacrip were involved in embezzling between $3 to $20 billion from unregistered oil sales. The accusation comes amid PDVSA reportedly planning to increase the usage of USDT in its crude and fuel exports as the U.S. reimposed oil sanctions on the country.

In September 2023, President Nicolás Maduro extended the reorganization of Sunacrip to March 15, 2024. However, that period has recently been extended for another six months. 

Venezuela has a history of electrical blackouts dating at least to 2010, with escalations in 2019.

Bitcoin mining farm image via Marko Ahtisaari/Wikicommons