Today, the 5th of July, Stuttgart prosecutors have filed charges against three men in Germany for violating weapons and weapon export laws. The accused have allegedly been illegally making and selling a small number of firearms on various darknet markets. We aren’t aware of many of the details surrounding the case but a single accusation was noteworthy; one of the men is accused of buying non-operational, dummy weapons and converting them into their fully functioning counterparts.
In as early as September, the men agreed to sell both AK-47s and Zastava M70s, both of which are explicitly prohibited under Germany’s strict firearm laws. And, while the laws regarding gun ownership and possession in Germany are constantly under scrutiny for being too restrictive, there is unlikely to be a country where these actions would ever be permitted. (Read more about Germany’s gun laws here.)
Most of the information regarding the sale of these rifles is yet to be made public, but the prosecutors in the case mention a main suspect acquired four rifles and went on to list and sell them on an undisclosed darknet market. The weapons were then shipped withh Paris as the destination, however the address in Paris did not exist.
In the past, several well-known markets allowed the anonymous sale of firearms, against the wishes of many users. The community, as a general rule, didn’t think this was an entirely wise decision due to the media attention it would ignite. Sales and trades of firearms through a marketplace where buyers remain completely unidentified could be cause for concern – especially if an act of terror was carried out with a gun that was traced back to the darknet. Law enforcement would ramp up their efforts to hunt down market owners, vendors, and potentially even buyers of products unrelated to the crime. Fortunately for the members of the deepweb who opposed the idea, very few locations still allow transactions involving weapons of any sort.
This feared media attention did take off, to a degree , when President Obama announced a new series of executive actions in an attempt to stop gun violence in the United States. Some details in Obama’s plan were explained by Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, where she specifically called out “dark web” markets as popular sources of illegal firearms.
For those who are fearing the day where “deepweb” and “gun violence” in the same news article, you should be happy to hear that German prosecutors make it clear they do not believe these weapons were used in the Paris shootings of November 2015. In fact, the case investigators are not yet sure that the rifles even left Germany and were stopped and discovered after the address was identified as non-existent.
One can sit and hope this won’t lead to more law enforcement presence on the deepweb. Between the markets running exit scams, police taking over the accounts of vendors to honey-pot buyers, and the arrests of prominent members of the community, we really don’t need anything else to go wrong.
Source: The Olympian