A joint press release from the Central Office of Cybercrime in Bavaria and the Customs Investigation Office in Frankfurt revealed that German authorities caught a 54-year-old who had been buying firearms from vendors on the darknet. The operation that led to the man’s arrest was a continuation of German law enforcement’s extensive investigation into darknet gun vendors who surfaced after David Sonboly purchased a Glock on the darknet and used it in a ‘rampage’ at a mall in Munich.
The arms dealer who sold David Sonboly the murder weapon—a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol—flipped and worked with the police after his arrest. Something similar may have happened in this most recent case. German media dubbed this darknet gun bust “the Schwandorf case” for obvious reasons. The 54-year-old man lived in Schwandorf. At the rate darknet gun buyers are getting arrested in Germany, a naming system is not a bad idea. Although buyers have been caught all throughout Germany, a spokesperson from the Central Office of Cybercrime in Bavaria said that this case is Schwandorf’s first darknet firearm case.
Even though a finite number of buyers exist, this arrest is unlikely to be the last in Schwandorf. It is unlikely that the investigation into the darknet weapon vendor randomly led police to one of said vendor’s customers. In the past, when this has happened, the police had either already arrested the vendor and accessed customer records or they had already arrested the vendor and flipped him. If the police have not arrested the vendor yet, they have likely profiled their packages. In Germany, following the Munich shooting, the police seemingly placed a high value on the customer records of darknet gun vendors. Gun buyers and sellers are understandably a higher priority concern than drug buyers and sellers.
In exchange for his cooperation and assistance in taking down other gun vendors and customers, the darknet vendor who sold Sonboly the Glock almost walked away with only minor charges. He brought down numerous vendors, found gun stashes, and set traps for customers. The police valued his work. (They later had to reopen his case after discovering the man may have had prior knowledge of the Munich shooting.) Law enforcement used customer records from darknet drug vendors too. They are not likely going to make a deal involving those records though.
Lukas Knorr, head of the Central Office of Cybercrime, opted against revealing any additional information about the investigation and bust. “We are still conducting an investigation,” he told the press. The press release did detail the search of the man’s property and arrest, though. According to Knorr, when the police showed up at the man’s house, the suspect willingly led police to the spot he had hidden two semi-automatic pistols, a revolver, and 300 rounds of ammunition.
He told police that he had purchased the items after the Munich shooting and buried them in fear. Knorr said the suspect had a “misunderstood passion for collecting weapons” and that the man was likely harmless. Regardless of the intent, the man still faces up to five years in prison for violating Germany’s weapon laws.