Europe has been a hub of deep web activity, only second to the United States, but has seen a higher rate of arrests among dealers and buyers of darknet markets. It seems the pressure from European law enforcement is only going to rise. Recently, a document published by Netherland’s leading newspaper, Volkskrant, reveals a plan by the many European countries, and the US to crack down on the online drug trade in Europe. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service are working a plan called “Illegal Trade on Online Marketplaces” (ITOM). The DPPS plans to work in conjunction with many police agencies across Europe, and the US. The plan has funding from the EU, and will work with European police agencies, Europol and Eurojust.The document isn’t an official release, but an unofficial statement briefly covering their 3 point plan, given to one of Volkskrant’s journalist. There is much more to this plan that is not been revealed, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the US are working on a similar operation.
The Document Focuses on Three Things – Tracking, Shipping, and Bitcoin.
- Tracking – They hope to cause “discouragement and deterrence, by the criminal court”. They plan to unmask the fake identities of people partaking in the deep web and bring them to “justice”. This isn’t shocking, but something that has not had a lot of interest or funding behind it, in the past. There is a lot of low hanging fruit, people not using PGP, or Tails. There are also, those with bad OPSEC, most notably, dealers. The pressure hasn’t been there in the past, and as result, these mistakes were allowed to exist, but with international cooperation and focus on taking down the deep web, these mistakes will be revealed.
- Shipping – They plan to force several countries to have custom inceptions on their borders, such as, France, Poland, Spain, Italy, and more. It is unclear if every EU country will participate in this, but one can only assume this will have a negative effect on the drug enforcement policies all over Europe in one or another. They want to crack down on shipments being sent through various European countries, and try to stop the flow of illicit goods. The FBI and ICE will probably be playing their part with trying to crack down on shipments from Europe to the US, as the US is one of Europe’s biggest customers, but this was not included in this unofficial release.
- Bitcoin – The third, and perhaps most scary, is that they plan on investigating people who purchase bitcoin. Their reasoning is that there are very little legal use for the digital currency, and that the main use of the currency is buying illicit goods. They also plan to put regulations into place that would make bitcoins easier to track, and tie them to identity of their owner.
Countries And Agencies Involved
The operation is funded by the European Commission, which is executive body of the European Union and is responsible for day to day operations, proposing legislation and making decisions for the EU.
Law Enforcement Agencies Involve: Netherlands (LP,Customs, DLR, IRS and FP), Europol, Eurojust, the USA (FBI and ICE), German (BKA and Staatsanwalt abolished Hesse and Celle), Portugal (PGdR), the UK (NCA), Sweden (Bureau of Investigations).
Border Inceptions will be forced for these countries: Finland (Customs), France (Customs), Spain, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland,Austria, etc. (It is unclear what etc. refers to. It might be referring to the rest of the countries involved in this operation, or the European Union as a whole.)
Why Are The Dutch Spearheading This Investigation?
Dutch coffee shops, the legal drug trade, are losing out to their online and black market equivalent. Deep web markets, like coffee shops, focus on the foreign customers, but deep web markets are beating coffee shops. The Dutch newspaper, Volkskrant, estimates that the turnover of the largest online dutch dealers “is four to five times as large as that of the successful ‘real’ coffee shops.” Unlike legal coffe shops, the online dealers don’t pay any taxes on their sales. Netherland’s tax revenue is being hurt by the better performing black market dealers.
Armor Up! Bitcoin And Tor Will Be Targeted!
Though, the focus of this operation is Europe, the US will likely be affected by this in big ways too. It is important for everyone on the deep web to tighten up on their security, as soon as possible. Use Tails, and PGP thoroughly! Non-traceable Bitcoin will be harder and harder to get in the future, so stock up now. Be aware that ISPs known you are using Tor, and that you simply using Tor (or bitcoin) will bring you under more suspicion. If you feel that you might of been compromised already, it might be best to stay away from the deep web for a while. Make you read the DeepDotWeb’s guide to preventing and dealing with a compromised identity.
Special Thanks To ITOM-Warning for bringing it to our attention!