On Thursday, February 11, 2017, a Potsdam Regional Court heard investigators explain the case of a successful darknet drug dealer. The story varied only slightly from that of any other such drug dealer. The issue, and reason the story made the news, became apparent as more data surfaced. Investigators in Brandenburg claimed the defendant was the most successful drug dealer in the area. Yet, they lost the millions earned by the defendant.
According to information that emerged during the hearing in February, the man sold a significant amount of drugs on the darknet. Mostly cocaine. Investigators called him “well-to-do” based on the quantity sold. But they believed that he might enter prison as a still a well-to-do man. In fact, prosecutors admitted that the investigation halted halfway through as the money proved impossible to find.
The defendant in question performed the role of the group’s leader, at a minimum. The prosecution called the other three men his “soldiers” and employees. Together the group sold drugs, mostly cocaine, on the Silk Road with the vendor account called “Afterhour.” According to the prosecutor’s statement, every member of the group was 30 years old, if not older. The defendant and group leader, a 31-year-old named Mark W. generated millions of dollars in sales between April 2012 and July 2013.
The Chief Investigator, only referred to as Thomas P., said that Afterhour quickly grew and became one of the largest vendors on the Silk Road. Even today, he said, Afterhour ranked number four on the most popular list of vendors on the Silk Road. The FBI told Brandenburg detectives that the group earned two million dollars—or more. Thomas P. questioned the number given by the American FBI. “If that is the whole amount, a lesser amount, or greater amount, only the accused knows.”
The Landeskriminalämter in Bavaria and Brandenburg stepped in Midway during the case, court documents revealed. The Chief Investigator believe that Mark W. also functioned as the group’s banker. However, he explained that Mark knew and handled Bitcoin quite well and for this reason likely kept the money in a Bitcoin wallet. He doubted anyone’s ability to find the money.
He explained that the money floated around in the “cloud.”
The money of Mark W. may be floating on a cloud through the darknet. [The darknet is] a secret, complicated, encrypted location on the Internet, accessible only to an authorized person. In [hidden service containers], everything can be uploaded, including a virtual wallet with virtual money (bitcoins). So-called bitcoins are a virtual currency, which can be used legally and illegally in the online trade. Mark W. is a master of dealing with bitcoins
The LKA officials revealed that they, too, were unsuccessful in the currency search. Thomas P. showed his dissatisfaction with the way that the LKA handled the case. He disliked that his investigators stopped working on the case, only to hand it over to a different law enforcement agency that also failed.
The defendant, Mark W., told investigators that the Bitcoin remained in a Silk Road wallet. He said that after the FBI took the Silk Road offline the big earned earned by Afterhour disappeared with the long-lost marketplace. This is not the information investigators wanted to hear. Despite their lengthy search, law enforcement agencies came up empty-handed. After the court appearance, Thomas P. explained that the defendant’s sentence will be a strict one, but he will still be a rich man—even in prison.