According to Kim Aarenstrup, head of the National Police’s Cyber Crime Centre (NC3), Danish police developed tools to prevent darknet drug trade. The tools, she explained in a press release, came in the form of new methods of Bitcoin transaction analysis. The engineers at NC3 used “new skills, methods, and technologies” to “to prove and punish rogue trades with bitcoin.”
The new method already proved itself in the form of two darknet-linked convictions. Aarenstrup called the new mixture of skills and technologies a breakthrough—a new era of darknet and Bitcoin investigations. NC3’s method reinforced the notion that darknet marketplace users never had any form of anonymity. “The tracks are there and the criminals can not remove them,” Aarenstrup said.
“Two employees could in an afternoon identify 150 suspected drug dealers in dark web. The cases are now being further developed. The analytical method creates endless opportunities to expose criminals transactions with bitcoins,” she explained. The NC3 collaborated with various forms of law enforcement in several darknet cases, but this outdid any past assistance. Prosecutor Jesper Klyve of the Mid and West Jutland Police said that the EC3 also helped when phones needed wiretapping or computers needed searching.
Two darknet drug cases from April 2016 resulted in convictions because of the the EC3’s new skill set, the head of the National Police’s Cyber Crime Centre explained. In one, the Court of Holstebro convicted a 22-year-old man of drug trafficking. The court sentenced him to four years in prison as the prosecution proved he trafficked 2.3 kilograms of amphetamine.
In the other, the Court in Herning sentenced a 23-year-old man to eight years in prison. He purchased and subsequently received eight kilograms of amphetamine and 100 grams of cocaine via the darknet. Both cases ended in convictions, Aarenstrup added.
“We showed that the accused transferred certain amount of bitcoins to specific marketplaces on the Dark Web,” Prosecutor Jesper Klyve said. “We knew the exact prices in those markets, so we multiplied up. It is similar to when we previously found drug accounts. It opens up new opportunities to investigate and prove serious crime.”
The press release explained that prosecutors, in the past, faced difficulties with Bitcoin. The senders and recipients kept themselves separated and no external link existed. But the NC3’s breakthrough “allowed investigators to document each transaction between criminals and the marketplaces.”
NC3 hosted international cybercrime conferences on the new analytical method used to track darknet criminals. United States law enforcement attended the conferences and other countries displayed their interest. Europol already participated; if we learned anything in 2016, it regarded Europol, Interpol, and member states. Where Europol travels, so will Interpol.