Countries with high profile cities have continually appeared on the news for one darknet related crime or another since the fall of the original Silk Road. Germany, in particular has seen a massive increase in darknet related arrests—much due to post-Munich shooting events where the weapons vendor promised to work with the police, giving them everything. A look at the most recent DeepDotWeb posts revealed that places like Reutlingen, Frickenhausen, and Stuttgart made the most routine headlines in early 2017. However, one district in Austria wanted to throw their name in the ring of locations affected by the darknet.
The location in question is the Austrian district of Schärding. For American readers, these districts often resemble cities in the United States. So much so that “cities” best avoid confusion as to avoid misconceptions associated with various parts of a US city. Moving past that, in an editorial piece for Tips.at, Elena Auinger interviewed the police chief inspector on how, if at all, the darknet changed crime in the district. His responses resembled data from larger, more popular regions for darknet news—and definitely raised questions as to the commonality of similar instances in other under-reported areas.
Chief Inspector Erwin Eilmannsberger started by explaining the darknet and how it is used by criminals to trade drugs and weapons. “Not only have the “dark alleyways” of Schärding provided a prime location for illegal business, but now the internet caused a similar concern,” the Inspector explained.
Eilmannsberger told the Tips interviewer that police dealt with darknet drug crimes more than other criminal aspects of the darknet. “Drug addicts are the most frequent drug buyers [on the darknet], the inspector explained. However, Eilmannsberger further detailed, police in Schärding started seeing a massive influx of counterfeit banknotes that linked back to the darknet. The circulation of counterfeit notes in the district matched a similar happening in other countries that use the Euro, albeit slightly behind; some German city states started seeing a decline in counterfeit use towards the end of 2016.
Police, since an unknown date, dealt with “at least” one darknet crime every week of the year. Still, they consisted primarily of drug crimes. However, when asked about the police’s most difficult part of dealing with “cybercrime,” (Here, Tips referred to the local symptoms of darknet marketplaces given that the interview focused on local crime tied to the darknet. The proper phrasing likely disappeared during translation and cybercrime never came up again.). Eilmannsberger explained that the packages themselves gave police a headache without a current cure.
Along with many countries, states, or borders In general, packages filled with illicit substances slipped right through the fingers of law enforcement. Aside from a limited number of random package searches, the police found themselves powerless against the criminals who shipped drugs into Schärding.
In closing, the chief explained that darknet drug trafficking could end “only by increasing restrictions on the shipping distribution centers like post offices and airport distribution hubs.” Also, in a method similar to one suggested by Senator Rob Portman, the different transit hubs ought to pass addressee information along for screening before the package landed at distribution centers, Eilmannsberger said. That way, if needed, an investigation would require one less step.
Knowing where the package came from, especially when the origin was a flagged location (Think: The Netherlands,) and knowing who the recipient was, along with new mail laws, might stop the growing issue, Eilmannsberger closed.