According to a press release issued by a spokesperson for the Rhein-Erft-Kreis district police in Germany, a lengthy investigation led to the arrest of an alleged darknet vendor and his suspected accomplices. The primary target of the investigation, a 43-year-old Bedburg man, reportedly distributed drugs via darknet markets from January 2016 until his arrest in late October, 2017. Investigators had obtained evidence that the main suspect had trafficked a wide assortment of drugs on two separate darknet markets.
Between January 2016 and late October 2017, the 43-year-old had earned roughly $210,000 in Bitcoin. The suspected accomplices, a 40-year-old from Germany and a 32-year-old from Moldova, aided the primary suspect in his vending activities, according to the police report.
Although the news only recently broke, police explained that German Spezialeinsatzkräfte (special forces) had raided the lead suspect’s apartment on October 23, 2017. During the raid, authorities discovered significant quantities of assorted drugs, cash, gold, and a sizeable stash of Bitcoin. They arrested the suspects on provisional warrants before continuing the search and investigation.
Upon a final calculation of seized evidence, German law enforcement brought the 43-year-old before a magistrate for an arrest warrant. The magistrate, presumably after hearing the evidence collected at the man’s apartment, signed the arrest warrant. Rhein-Erft-Kreis police collected 5,800 ecstasy pills at the apartment; 4 kilograms of MDMA; 4.6 kilograms of marijuana; 4.8 kilograms of hashish; 130 grams of cocaine; 2.4 kilograms of amphetamine; and enough “amphetamine base” (likely N-formylamphetamine or similar) to produce 105 kilograms of amphetamine.
The police seized the 43-year-old’s amphetamine manufacturing equipment—such as other precursors, lab tools, and chemical agents used to facilitate amphetamine synthesis. They seized the drugs and manufacturing setup. They seized standard packaging materials and other “mailing items.” And they took the search one step further; the Rhein-Erft-Kreis police announced that they had found and seized cash and gold worth roughly $11,000. On top of that, the police claimed they had seized roughly $116,000 in Bitcoin.
Unless the vendor/manufacturer stored Bitcoin offline or in a dedicated hardware wallet, German law enforcement might have found an unencrypted computer or smartphone with an accessible cryptocurrency wallet. If he had stored anything else on the device, the information could incriminate both buyers and sellers. No evidence to support this theory currently exists. It would not be unusual, given the increasing number of vendors busted with customer information. For instance: German police are actively pursuing buyers found on the seized Shiny Flakes customer logs. And: former Alphabay vendor “PeterTheGreat” kept logs that led to the arrest of another former Alphabay vendor known as “Zane61.”
The spokesperson for the police department added that the investigation will take a “long time.”