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Cannabis-growing beekeeper lost his €52m bitcoin fortune in a skip


Clifton Collins invested profits from drugs in bitcoins

Clifton Collins invested profits from drugs in bitcoins

Clifton Collins invested profits from drugs in bitcoins

A jailed drug dealer with €52m worth of bitcoin that gardai cannot access because he says he has lost the pin codes gave the impression of living a simple life.

Clifton Collins (49), originally from Slane Road, Crumlin, made huge profits from his involvement in the cryptocurrency.

However, any hope of getting at the millions tied up in his bitcoin wallets seemingly rests on the location of a missing fishing rod case.

Collins said he wrote the codes to access the vast fortune on a piece of paper that was hidden in the case.

He believes that when he was jailed for drugs offences, his belongings were removed from his rented home and may have ended up in a skip.

Collins was regularly spotted selling jars of his honey at street markets in Co Galway.

He moved west after renting a property at Farnaught, outside Corr na Mona, a village in a Gaeltacht area on the northern side of Lough Corrib.

He registered a company, called Lough Island and set up his front business of bee-keeping.

At the same time, he established a cannabis growhouse on the property, producing a yield of around four kilos of cannabis herb every 16 weeks and selling the crop to drug dealers for €25,000 to €30,000.

His activities remained unnoticed until the early hours of February 8, 2017 when his erratic driving caught the attention of gardai in the Sally Gap in the Wicklow mountains.

The officers stopped his Lexus 4x4 and questioned Collins on suspicion of driving under the influence of drink.


A search of the vehicle uncovered a quantity of cannabis herb.

Collins was arrested and charged with a number of offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act at Bray District Court.

In the meantime, gardai alerted their colleagues in Clifden, and when they searched the property at Corr na Mona they discovered the growhouse and found around 500 cannabis plants.

Follow-up inquiries established that Collins had also set up several growhouses properties he had rented in Kells, Co Meath, and Drumlish, Co Longford, over the previous decade.

After harvesting his crops, Collins vacuum-packed the cannabis and sold it to dealers in Dublin.

Collins is currently in prison. He was sentenced to five years, with one year suspended, for his involvement in drugs.

Gardai passed a file on the case to the Criminal Assets Bureau, whose inquiries uncovered another bizarre side to Collins' life.

CAB officers found that from 2011, he had begun to invest his cannabis profits in bitcoin, a cryptocurrency becoming popular with investors, including those who were anxious to lodge their money outside the mainstream financial institutions.

He set about mining bitcoin in the virtual world.

The term "mining" is used because searching for bitcoin is similar to looking for gold, in that it exists but has not yet been found.

There is a finite amount of bitcoin - it is estimated that 21 million of them will exist at some stage - and the miners have to find them and establish an access code to invest.

In trading yesterday, one bitcoin was worth €8,951.