In early August, Dutch police forces raided a drug laboratory in Boxtel, a small town in the southern Netherlands. The police arrested three suspects for alleged drug distribution at an international level. Police left out the majority of the details, but members of a subreddit fit pieces together and found the identity of the three suspects. The newly arrested drug traffickers, /r/RCsources users determined, were the group behind the research chemical organization known as “Research Group Nederland.”
ResearchGroupNederland (RGN) sold, as is the case with many research chemical vendors, on the clearnet. At one time, selling legal research chemicals online and taking fewer OPSEC precautions had seemed safe. As long as substances were not advertised or labelled in a way that encouraged human consumption, what could go wrong? The line between clearnet research chemical (RC) vendors and darknet marketplace vendors is shrinking—especially if a vendor sells on the darknet and clearnet simultaneously.
In 2016 and possibly later, RGN sold ketamine and MDMA on a darknet marketplace. (Just Alphabay I believe but possibly others.) At some point in 2016, they began to focus on clearnet research chemical sales. The group registered their website, researchgroupnederland[dot]com, in January 2016. (Granted, they purchased one of their research chemical websites, 4fmp-nederland[dot]com, on November 19, 2015). From the clearnet site, they sold one of the widest array of “research chemicals” offered on the market.
Not only did the group sell a wide selection of drugs, they sold them in kilogram quantities—if requested. Kilogram quantities of fentanyl analogs too. With the heat from fentanyl, some users suggest that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Regardless of how and why, other than the mere fact that Dutch police are on a roll, it happened.
“It’s not a lab where drugs are being produced, but we had a suspicion that there was a reasonable amount of hard drugs,” a spokesman said. “The property featured fentanyl, both in the United States and Canada, the drug is extremely popular, but it also causes many deaths.”
There are several circumstantial indicators that the three suspects and lab had belonged to RGN.
- The first is that the raid occurred in Boxtel. As stated above, Boxtel is small. RGN was large. The existence of another large mail-order drug trafficking organization in such a small town is unlikely. Especially a clearnet one.
- One Reddit user pointed out that the website was registered at complex that, by walking, was within 10 minutes of the location the police raided.
- Several research chemical buyers or simply people paying attention remembered one of the real names of a member and/or his entire dox; they matched locations.
- Not only is the site registered to an address within walking distance of the raided business park, RCsources users reported receiving DHL express packs from Boxtel.
- RGN stopped replying to users the same day that the police raided them. They have not returned emails since.
The three drug traffickers could have been any other mail order drug trafficking organization in Boxtel. There is no solid proof that they are and a lack of information in general to prove that they are not. However, speculative evidence points towards the RGN angle. We may never find out. The police will. Law enforcement are still investigating the case and are now working with DHL. The suspects are in custody and are not allowed contact with the outside world, save for contact with their lawyers. Similar to the Hansa takedown.