A man in his 30s from Lüdenscheid, Germany is facing 68 charges, including the illegal sale of weapons and drugs on a darknet forum.
According to the court documents, the prosecution is currently preparing a comprehensive case against the 33-year-old defendant. A cybercrime specialist from the Cologne public prosecutor’s office reported that the family father had allegedly traded drugs and weapons in a variety of cases on the dark side of the internet. The accusation against the man (who has no previous convictions, as of the court records) includes 68 allegations. German media outlets reported that the court trial may begin after the summer holidays.
Court documents stated that the defendant gained an “outstanding position” in the period between August 2015 and September 2016 with numerous actions in the “Underground Economy Forum”. In March, in a joint law enforcement action between the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the State Criminal Police Office (LKA), German authorities identified a large part of the 260 users of the darknet forum and closed down the website. According to the German news publication Bayerische Rundfunk, fraud, computer fraud, data collection and money laundering, as well as illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, prescription drugs, and weapons, are being investigated against the accused. All of the crimes are connected to the seized dark web forum.
During the March operation, approximately 1,000 investigators participated in the law enforcement action and searched over 120 homes in Germany in connection with crimenetwork.biz. Officers were able to identify 153 members of the forum, including 11 suspects, who are believed to be the part of the forum’s “leadership level”. These suspects are currently facing serious charges, including the forming of a criminal organization. In addition, a joint action of British, German, and Latvian law enforcement authorities resulted in the arrest of 12 persons, who were suspected of stealing the funds of online banking customers in Germany.
According to the court documents, the 33-year-old admitted most of the charges against him. According to his confession, the defendant smuggled hashish from the Netherlands across the border to Germany, offered the drug for a higher price on the darknet forum, and sent a portion of it to his customers via the national postal service.
In November 2015, the defendant allegedly offered a six-shot revolver and 20 cartridges for 400 euros on crimenetwork.biz. An interested person with the alias “Jürgen444” contacted the 33-year-old to buy the weapon, however, he ditched out before the deal was settled. Law enforcement authorities later found the weapon during the search of the defendant’s apartment in Lüdenscheid.
Shortly before the failed weapon deal, the 33-year-old was in contact with a certain Sascha W. at the darknet forum. According to the current investigation, the man is considered as a “busy firearm specialist”. According to Jens Berndt, spokesman for the district court, Sascha W. bought up the brand-new Walther PK 380 fright-gun pistols, made them lethal (sharp) and sold them on the dark web with the appropriate ammunition for around 950 euros per piece. Sascha W. was arrested on November 16, 2015, in Magstadt on the suspicion of illegal weapon trade. According to the court documents, the 34-year-old man allegedly used the “DW Guns” pseudo name to sell firearms to darknet customers.
In October 2015, the 33-year-old purchased one of these pistols from Sascha W. and, in a forest between Lüdenscheid and Wiblingwerde, shot 25 rounds with it, and gave the weapon to his father. According to Jens Berndt, the father’s case is determined separately. One month after the purchase, the defendant purchased a second weapon from Sascha W., a Walther PK 380 again, and ordered 550 euros worth of ammunition for the price of 400 euros.
On the motives of the 33-year-old, according to the police, the “fear of increasing crime by refugees” has driven him. In addition, the drug business was the defendant’s source of income after he lost his job in August 2015.
The case started with customs officers from Frankfurt am Main seizing one of the packages of the 33-year-old. When it became clear that one of the tracks leads to Lüdenscheid, the prosecutor’s office in Cologne intervened. Experts from the “Center for Cybercrime in North Rhine-Westphalia” (ZAC NRW) prepared the charges against the 33-year-old family father.