In Belgium, a 25-year-old programmer was arrested for distributing amphetamines via darknet marketplaces. The accused, along with three accomplices, fell under the investigation due to lack of sufficient postage on a package. Like the famed Chemical Love, the recently arrested programmer shipped packages with local businesses listed as the return address.
The accused programmer, Stijn Victor, operated his business while still living at his family home in Torhout. This, according to the prosecutor, is a reason Victor used local businesses as return addresses. The 25-year-old’s parents were unable to check the mail and discover returned packages.
Insufficient postage on at least six packages resulted in each one being returned to sender. The return address on these six packages was that of a local computer shop called “Exellent.” The owner, Jos Denolf, told a local news agency that he opened the first package and was shocked by the contents. He immediately reported the package to law enforcement.
Five more packages were shipped with a lack of postage and all were similarly returned sender. Police analyzed the packages and discovered several partial fingerprints and one complete print.
The prints matched those of Stijn Victor. Victor was arrested for drug crimes in 2013. At the time of his arrest, police took Victor’s fingerprints. The prints were recorded in the system and led police directly to the vendor.
His accomplices were not named in the indictment or court documents but one of the men was Victor’s nephew. He too lived at his parent’s home.
Victor and colleagues, according to a prosecutor, sold mainly “synthetic drugs” and amphetamines. A total of 1,878 transactions were conducted, mostly consisting of the aforementioned synthetic drugs. Investigators said that more transactions may have occurred but only 1,878 were able to be proven. (Author note: no specifics were given in reference to the synthetic drugs.)
The group operated on the deepweb under the pseudonym “Evilution.”
The so-called gang possessed nearly 4,000 bitcoins at the time of the bust. Victor, the actual vendor and focus of the case, was required to surrender 2,000 bitcoins to the prosecutor’s office. Prosecutors have further called for the surrender of an additional 2,000 bitcoins. At the current price, 4,000 bitcoin is equivalent to nearly $3,000,000 US dollars. Victor’s attorney has disputed the bitcoin conditions for numerous reasons.
Thomas Vandemeulebroucke, Victor’s lawyer, argues that many of the bitcoins were obtained years ago. The programmer received bitcoin as payment while the price per bitcoin was far lower than the current price. According to the defense, Victor was paid in bitcoin at times when each coin was valued at only $184 whereas the current value is nearing $700 per coin.
The proposed seizure of the totality of Victor’s bitcoin holdings would not only be unjust based on the currency’s increased value; Victor bought and traded bitcoin in addition to vending on the deepweb. Much of the currency was not received as payment for illegal drug transactions, the lawyer said.
“But how are they going to prove how many of those bitcoins were used for drugs and how many were not? The number of sales can not be proven to me. If so, my client needs to recover some of his bitcoins,” said Vandemeulebroucke.
The prosecution sought a very severe punishment:
We are not dealing with an ordinary drug dealer. He made part of the underworld and used his knowledge of science to develop its trade. Strict effective five years’ imprisonment is the only appropriate punishment. At the darknet you really can get everything, even assassins. society needs to be protected.
Vandemeulebroucke argued the opposite: “We think, therefore, more in the direction of a community service order of 300 hours. My client has really changed.” The accomplices were not mentioned by the prosecution. However, Victor’s lawyer mentioned that the three partners all faced much less severe punishments. He said that the sentence of five years imprisonment would be far too extreme and unjust.
The court will reach a decision on December 2, 2016.