According to a press release by the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard – an organized police force charged with duties under the authority of both the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defence in Spain), Spanish law enforcement authorities arrested four suspects, aged between 18 and 29, in Tenerife, the Canary Islands, for “forming a criminal organization dedicated to the introduction of synthetic drugs bought in Europe through the darknet with virtual money or bitcoin.”
The law enforcement action, called “Operation Darknet”, started in November, last year, was carried out by the Organized and Anti-Drug Delinquency Team (EDOA) of the Judicial Police Organic Unit of the Civil Guard in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the Tax Agency of the Combined Unit of Customs Surveillance in Tenerife.
As a result of the operation, law enforcement authorities seized 1,200 grams of amphetamine, almost 11 kilograms of marijuana, 208 ecstasy pills with different anagrams, including the Ferrari and FC Barcelona brands, 193 grams of speed, 67 grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms, in addition to cash and high-end electronic devices. The value of the confiscated narcotics is estimated to be about 61,000 euros.
According to the press release, the suspects used the dark web to order the drugs from abroad countries anonymously.
“In order to achieve their objectives, they had devised a novel formula in Spain, the introduction of synthetic drugs through postal parcels from European countries such as Holland and Germany,” the press release goes by.
The investigation revealed that one of the members of the organization received funds from the others on his bank account to exchange euros to bitcoins or to other virtual currencies. The suspect allegedly examined the fluctuation of the value of the currency in order to make a bigger cut.
The second member, who had great computer skills, made the purchase of the required substances, police reported. Once the package arrived, he handed the substances to the person in charge of making pills with the raw substance received. After the drugs were ready to sell, the gang distributed them to customers.
For the distribution channel, one of the members acted as a DJ organizing rave parties in abandoned buildings or in uninhabited areas to proceed to the sale of the narcotics to the guests. The member was also responsible for the distribution of the drugs in places at La Laguna.
The leader of the organization tried to collect a package of ecstasy pills, which he tried to sell on the occasion of the Carnival of Santa Cruz. However, law enforcement authorities intercepted the shipment, and “removed the drugs from the illicit market”.
According to the Guardia Civil, the law enforcement operation could be considered as a “pioneer” action is Spain. In Operation Darknet, Spanish police managed to dismantle a criminal organization dedicated to drug trafficking, who supplied narcotics, which they ordered exclusively from the dark web using virtual money. By using darknet marketplaces to purchase the drugs, the criminals made it very difficult for law enforcement authorities to detect them since they conducted secret communications and took advantage of the anonymity of the Tor Network. Since the suspects conducted non-registered purchases and paid in a hardly traceable currency, police suspect that the criminals had been carrying out their illegal activities for several years.
After law enforcement authorities detained the four alleged members of the criminal organization, investigators performed house searches on all suspects. Officers discovered a marijuana plantation in the basement of one of the members.
“Intervened substances are drugs that cause serious damage to health, leading to effects such as hallucinations, euphoria, exalted sensory perception, psychotic pictures, anxiety, depression as well as many other highly harmful effects,” the Guardia Civil reported in the press release about the drugs the criminal organization dealt with.
The Court of First Instance and the Instruction No. 2 of La Laguna decreed the admission of all suspects to prison and without bail. All defendants are charged with the crimes of drug trafficking and belonging to a criminal organization.