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Man Sentenced After Package Interception in France

Prior to his arrest, 25-year-old Chateau-Thierry resident Adel Belkacem made five separate orders on the darknet, the authorities announced after the May 2017 arrest. In May, Customs spotted a package containing 109 ecstasy pills, 117 grams of amphetamine, 48 grams of ketamine, and 64 grams of cannabis. Belkacem received a sentence of nine months in prison and a fine of 3,000 euros.

After Customs intercepted Belkacem’s package of drugs, a customs officer conducted a controlled delivery. A customs officer disguised himself as a postman and delivered the package. After Belkacem accepted the package, the officer arrested him and French authorities later searched his home for evidence of drug trafficking. They found that the 25-year-old had been ordering drugs from the darknet—using bitcoin—and doing something unknown with the drugs.

With no actual evidence to charge Belkacem with drug trafficking, French authorities only charged him for receiving illegal substances (or importing them in the mail) and charged him for possessing illegal substances. But because of the quantity of drugs purchased in Belkacem’s previous orders, along with the drugs purchased in the intercepted order, authorities operated under the assumption that Belkacem had “resold” some or all of the drugs that he had purchased. They simply lacked evidence to back up their assumptions.

In court, where Belkacem showed up as a free man, the truth as the authorities wanted to hear reached the surface. Belkacem first admitted that he had made the purchases. He admitted that he had purchased drugs on the darknet on numerous occasions. He said that he did not resell the drugs but that he had heavily consumed them in the months leading up to his arrest. He explained that ever since his arrest, he had abstained from all substances. But during the period of time when he had placed routine orders on the darknet, he financed his purchases with the money earned as a roofer: 600 euros every week.

Belkacem said that he only made such large orders because his dealer refused to ship small orders. The dealer only sold wholesale quantities of drugs. One final time, the judge asked, “are you sure you do not finance your purchases with resale, in part?” The judge added that a purchase containing 109 ecstasy pills surprised him. This time, Belkacem said that he had helped his friends obtain drugs through the darknet. He did it for free, however. Belkacem reminded the judge that he had not used drugs since his arrest.

The judge sentenced him to nine months in prison and a fine of 3,000 euros.

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