Stijn V., a 25-year-old from Torhout, Belgium, was arrested for allegedly selling chemical drugs on a dark net market. Four of his partners were also busted who are risking lighter prison sentences.
According to official court documents, Stijn V. accepted payments in bitcoins. Law enforcement authorities were alerted by his activities when an undercover police officer ordered a parcel from the 25-year-old. Investigators screened the package and found fingerprints on it, which led to the arrest of the drug dealers in January 2015.
The investigation showed the man was dealing with amphetamines and other illegal chemical substances. According to the prosecutor’s office, the vendor received about 2,000 transactions from customers on the dark net. Bitcoin at the time was worth about 184 Euros, now, the virtual currency’s price has emerged to 600 Euros. Authorities wanted to confiscate 4,000 BTC from the man, however, defense argued that the amount police want to seize is higher than the 25-year-old received from customers.
“Police only interviewed one person. How can one know whether other people in, for example, Australia, have received their package?” argued Thomas Vandemeulebroucke from defense. The lawyer also asked a “drug trade expert” (some kind of professional specialized in dark net markets) what were the current bitcoin prices at the time Stijn V. was running the vendor shop. Defense suggested a sentence for 300 hours of community service. In 2014, the 25-year-old had already done 120 hours of community service for drug-related offenses.
The court ruling will be delayed until December 2.
If the sentence for Stijn V. will be 300 hours of community service, he can consider himself as a lucky man, especially that he had a previous drug-related offense. Most of the dark net vendors arrested receive two years in prison at best, but sometimes they are sentenced to 10-15 years. Of course, court rulings and laws vary by country, but 300 hours of community service seems to be a really light sentence for somebody who had dealt drugs on the dark web and sent parcels to international customers. This time, the question stands: should vendors get long jail times or be given light sentences including community service and probation?
While there are tons of dark net drug-related arrests in Germany, in Belgium, the most recent bust was the arrest of vendor group “Italian Mafia Brussels”. It was an international operation where law enforcement authorities caught six suspects mostly from the Brussels area, but there were also arrests in the United States and Romania. The group sold MDMA and ecstasy pills on the dark net. The gang disguised their packages as parcels from legitimate companies and sent the substances mostly to the US. The investigation started in February 2014 when a firm from the East Flemish town of Sint-Niklaas reported a problem to law enforcement authorities. The issue was a returned parcel from the United States, which contained 1kg of MDMA, enough to make 10,000 XTC pills. The suspects are yet to be sentenced.