On May 22, Federal Criminal Police Office announced a set of numbers attached to their anti-drug operation, known as “Operation Porto.” Since 2015, at least 170 kilograms of “poisons” and 78,000 ecstasy landed in police custody, many of which were en route to Austria.
The police managed to track down at least 700 suspects, a spokesperson from the BKA explained. Of those 700, investigators determined that 159 were commercial-level vendors. Vinzenz Kriegs-Au, spokesman for the Federal Criminal Police Office said that “[w]e were able to track postal deliveries through Operation Porto 407, of which almost 32 percent were intended for Upper Austria.”
“According to the experts of the Federal Criminal Police Office, the manufacturers and sellers of drugs, which are ordered on the Internet, are mainly in the Netherlands.” Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka explained that Austrian Criminal Justice investigated 174 suspects. Law enforcement managed to prove nearly 100 of said suspects trafficked the drugs instead of used them. 74 house searches resulted in the collection of 27 kilograms of drugs and 3,200 ecstasy pills. (Author note: I was not able to find any details for the “drugs” category—why they set drugs and ecstasy apart, I do not know.)
One dealer, Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said, built a customer base of 350 darknet users. “German investigators monitored around 6,000 packages within two years and secured 170 kilos of drugs,” an official explained. “Postal secrecy made large-scale controls difficult.” Customers are under surveillance too though, especially if a vendor kept the details of those who bought from him or her.
Another source confirmed that the majority of the drugs came from the Netherlands. The most frequent buyers? The US and Austria, he said. The Federal Criminal Police Office started Operation Porto with other law enforcement branches once the so called “trend” increased. By “trend,” German investigators referred to the growing number of people who ordered drugs online.
Law enforcement in Austria came up devoid of answers as to why Austria buys so many drugs. “The trade on the street, however, did not displace the Internet orders,” Kriegs-Au said. “Even ‘smaller’ dealers increasingly use addicting drugs from the Internet, which they then resell on the street.”
Vinzenz Kriegs-Au of the Federal Criminal Police Office answered several “questions” from the press:
Q. Why are drugs from the Darknet even more dangerous than the drug addiction on the street?
- The heroin dealer on the street wants to sell its consumers as much as possible “clean” drug addiction to keep its customers [coming back]. But the criminal groups in the Darknet have no [such motivation]. The drugs are strongly stretched. The danger to life is correspondingly high. There were already nine drug charges due to Darknet orders.
Q. Why are suspicious packages not controlled in the mail distribution centers?
- This happens, but is difficult for legal reasons. According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, only customs which are part of the financial administration may open packages. A law change would ease the police’s work.
Q. Does the online trafficking drive the sale of drugs on the streets?
- No, on the contrary. Because even small dealers increasingly use addiction drugs from the Darknet to sell them on the street or in the parks.