London’s Metropolitan Police (Met) has confiscated £114m ($159m, €133m) worth of cryptocurrency in an ongoing investigation into money laundering.

Detectives from the force’s economic crime command acted after receiving intelligence about the transfer of criminal assets.

Though the Met is being guarded about details of the operation, including which cryptocurrencies were impounded, detective constable Joe Ryan said: “Criminals need to legitimise their money otherwise it risks being seized by law enforcement.

“The proceeds of crime are almost always laundered to hide the origin, but by disrupting the flow of funds before they are reinvested, we can make London an incredibly difficult place for criminals to operate.”

Deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty added: “There is an inherent link between money and violence. Violence is used to extort, blackmail, burgle, control and exploit. It’s used to protect criminal profits and maintain control of territories.

“Cash remains king, but as technology and online platforms develop, some are moving to more sophisticated methods of laundering their profits.”

In the financial year ending last March, the Met confiscated more than £47m from criminals, cash which can no longer be reinvested in crime, used to buy and peddle drugs and weapons, or used to entice and exploit young and vulnerable people into criminality, he added.

The Met believes the £114m cryptocurrency seizure is one of the largest ever of its type globally.