A 25-year-old and a 28-year-old were arrested for allegedly selling lethal weapons on the dark web. According to the law enforcement authorities, one of them was a toolmaker who rebuilt non-lethal firearms, while the 28-year-old provided funds for the equipment and the material.
The two men from Stuttgart sold rebuilt lethal pistols and AK-47s originated from the former Yugoslavia and China. The latter firearms are considered as “weapons of war”. The duo also sold ammunition to the weapons they advertised. The two men were also charged with money laundering.
The alleged gun vendors were arrested shortly after the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks in 2015. During the house search of the 25-year-old, police found 16 firearms. Prosecutors say he allegedly sold weapons to an address in Paris. However, there is no evidence saying that any of the firearms sold by the duo were used in the attacks or even arrived at the French capital.
The November 13 terror attacks in Paris created some confusion regarding the dark net. Soon after the attacks, the Bild claimed that the terrorists purchased the weapons from a German dark web vendor. However, this allegation has not been proved.
The Paris terror attack made the Europol to conduct an investigation of the whole case. According to them, the Islamic State do not use Bitcoins and the dark net for their operations since they already have a better and safer option on social media platforms and on messaging services.
“The internet and social media are used for communication and the acquisition of goods (weapons, fake IDs) and services, made relatively safe for terrorists with the availability of secure and inherently encrypted appliances, such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber. On Facebook, VKA and Twitter they join closed and hidden groups that can be accessed by invitation only, and use coded language,” the report said.
The 25-year-old and the 28-year-old men are standing before court awaiting their trial. They can face heavy charges and several years in prison for violating the Arms Act and the War Weapons Control Act.
In July, the Heidelberg District Court had already sentenced a 32-year-old to five years and six months since arms trade on the dark net. He used the vendor name “Dosensuppe”. Christian L. sold guns to many customers, including a “21-year-old man from Britain who plotted to use a sub machine gun to commit murder, a right wing radical that was previously responsible for a bomb attack, and a man who was seen posing in front of an Islamist flag with a Russian AK-47”.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) has already raised its concerns over dark net weapon sales and said stopping the trade “will be a great challenge for us all”.