Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security (SCNS) shut down 500 cryptocurrency mining farms a local news site called 24 reported Saturday, ostensibly so they could no longer put undue strain on the country's power grid.
"More than 500 mining farms illegally connected to power grids have been revealed," SCNS said in a statement that was published by 24. "It should be noted that the mining farms subsequently lead to a shortage of generated electricity, since one set of equipment consumes about 1,500-3,000 kilowatts per hour."
Kyrgyzstan's SNCS conducts counter-terrorism operations and is responsible for rooting out organized crime in the country. The agency doesn't appear to have released an official statement elsewhere about this incident—its website is unreachable at the time of writing—and we don't have details on the scope of the 500 mining operations. For example, how large were these farms, and did they use ASICs or PCs with graphics cards? If they were illegally stealing power, old Bitcoin ASICs would be the likely culprit, since they're otherwise not profitable for mining these days.
This wouldn't be the first time Kyrgyzstan has targeted crypto miners, though. Bitcoin.com reported in May that authorities had seized 2,000 mining rigs from operations surrounding the capital city of Bishkek. Below you can see a video from one of their busts earlier this year.
Kyrgyzstan isn't alone in targeting crypto miners for their power usage. China's ongoing crackdown on the practice is purportedly motivated by similar concerns, and Iran temporarily banned cryptocurrency mining earlier this year because it feared the practice would increase the likelihood of blackouts during the summer.
Police in the UK have shut down mining operations for stealing electricity, too. In July, police in the Malaysian city of Miri released a video showing them steamrolling over a thousand mining rigs because they relied on stolen power. (24 didn't say what SCNS planned to do with the rigs confiscated as part of this recent operation.)
The environmental impact of mining cryptocurrency has become increasingly contentious in recent months. It's particularly difficult to defend miners stealing electricity to increase their profits, especially in countries without reliable power grids, even if some regimes use those concerns to mask their actual motivations.