French law enforcement authorities arrested five men, aged between 23 and 59, who are suspected of running a website on the dark web selling different kinds of drugs.
The judicial police in Versailles, France detained and placed the five suspects in police custody on Wednesday. The prosecution accused the defendants of setting up and running a website for several months on the dark web, where they sold narcotics to customers.
The National Directorate of Intelligence and Customs Investigations (DNRED) started an investigation against the suspects several weeks ago. Officials at the Ministry of France discovered the illegal activities of the five men. Law enforcement authorities caught the trail of the suspects when they uncovered that large amounts of BTC were paid to the website admins by the customers. The ministry estimates the total turnover of the traffickers to be more than 500,000 euros.
“The platform sold everything – cannabis, cocaine, heroin or MDMA – and was sent [by] a delivery man, who dropped off the goods at their home,” a source close to the investigation said. It was then necessary to identify the individuals who were hiding behind the site. “It was not obvious because on the darknet all users were using scrambling programs for their IP addresses. But the job finally paid off.”
The main suspect in the case is a 28-year-old man currently residing in Trappes, Yvelines. The prosecution claimed that the defendant used a pseudonym on the website similar to the ones that “jihadist apprentices” use.
“The police have noted conversations with Islamist connotations, but they have not found any activity related to a terrorist enterprise,” a source close to the case added.
Law enforcement authorities arrested the 28-year-old on Wednesday morning. When police searched his home, investigators seized 2kgs of cannabis resin and a considerable amount of MDMA. Officials also detained the man’s accomplices in Lilas (Seine-Saint-Denis), Gagny (Seine-Saint-Denis) and Louvre (Val-d’Oise). During the house searches, law enforcement authorities also discovered a cache with two pump rifles, a Winchester, and a 357 Magnum revolver.
When police interrogated the suspects, the five men partially admitted the allegations against them.
“The organizer, a member of a well-known trafficker family in Trappes, admitted that the drug discovered belonged to him,” a spokesman for the court said.
Only on the suspects was released from custody at the end of the court hearing. The trial is expected to continue soon.
Due to the lack of information, we do not actually know the exact name or URL of the website police just busted. However, if law enforcement authorities managed to bust a whole dark net website (with its admins), most possibly a single vendor shop, it could be considered as a major takedown.
Not in France, but a French couple was sentenced in French Polynesia for ordering meth from the dark web, recently. This instance could be considered as quite unique since we do not hear about dark web cases in Oceania every day. According to official court information, the two suspects ordered 167 grams of methamphetamine from dark net vendors located in Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany. The defendants were extreme consumers of the substance, however, they resold about 30 bags (weighing about 0.1 grams each) for customers to make a profit. They benefited 1.5 million XPF (13,400 USD) from the narcotics trade. According to the suspect’s lawyer, Vincent Dubois, both of the defendants were experiencing issues from their former relationships and fallen into addiction until they lost their sense of the real world. At the court trial, the couple confirmed the defense’s statement, and described themselves as “large consumers of meth”. The man, a civil engineering technician in the Presidency, was sentenced to four years in prison. The woman, a school professor, was imprisoned for a year. Besides the prison sentences, the couple has to pay a customs fine of 20 million XPF (178,000 USD). There was a third suspect in the case, law enforcement authorities arrested him with the couple. However, investigators released him from police custody after they realized that the man is not guilty.