Between October 9 and October 29 alone, Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation identified 396 suspected criminals during the investigation into the Onion Channel, a darknet imageboard for Finnish speakers. The Onion Channel, known in Finnish as “Sipulkanava,” functioned like any other imageboard but users also arranged drug deals through the site. On November 1, Finnish Police and Finnish Customs Enforcement took the hidden service offline and replaced it with a Poliisi seizure banner.
DeepDotWeb covered the Onion Channel takedown soon after the seizure banner appeared. Given the response time between the takedown and the discovery of the takedown, Finnish police had not yet revealed any internal information on the site’s closure or police operation. “Undercover steps have been taken [towards identifying suspects] in the last 24 hours, but at this stage, we are not commenting on the matter anymore,” Customs Supervisor Hannu Sinkkonen said in a statement regarding both the Onion Channel and the Valhalla Marketplace. (Note that the Valhalla Marketplace was not included in this action by law enforcement, but that the two sites have often been mentioned together.)
The National Bureau of Investigation identified 396 suspected users of the Onion Channel imageboard. Only 116 of the 396 had allegedly raised flags for illegal drug trafficking. Fewer caught drug trafficking charges. The remaining suspects had either participated in non-drug related criminal activities or used the board in a completely legal fashion. Not unlike clearnet imageboards or forums, many Finnish speakers who temporarily regrouped on clearnet sites allegedly used the service lawfully.
Police Departments Monitored Suspects in their Districts
The Poliisi’s press release provided a detailed breakdown of where law enforcement had located some of the suspects. The Helsinki Police Department reported 20 suspects; The Häme Police Department reported 20; the Eastern Finland Police Department reported 17; the Finnish Police Office reported 85 notices; the Southwest Finland Police Department reported 52, and the Lapland Police Department reported 28. During the three week investigation, the police detained 199 suspects for questioning. They charged and arrested 86 users for narcotic crimes and imprisoned 19 people.
Police arrested, almost entirely, suspects in their 1990s. Young people made up the majority of the investigated users and the majority of the detained suspects. Law enforcement found the most common crime fell into the “drug crimes” category, but several suspects had committed “serious narcotic offenses.”
National Bureau of Investigation and Customs seized drugs, money, and weapons.
The seized items included:
- 2.7 kilograms of amphetamine;
- 500 grams of methamphetamine;
- 1,500 ecstasy tablets;
- 3.6 kilograms of marijuana
- More than 300 opioid substitution medications;
- 2,500 Clonazepam pills;
- four firearms;
- 30,000 euros in cash
The Poliisi’s press release added that the increased availability of drugs from the internet pushed the police to adapt and take on new and tactics for both online and in person investigations. “According to Police Inspector Teemu Saukoniemi of the Police Administration, one of the aims of the online surveillance operation was to develop the police’s capacity to expose narcotics offenses nationwide by introducing good practices from those police units that have had more experience here.”