The state police force of the Republic of Ireland, Gardai, is expected to present evidence seized from the dark web in the forthcoming high-profile case against an organized Irish dark web criminal gang.
Recently, the organized Irish criminal gangs have been on the rise particularly with the use of virtual currencies and bitcoin to launder money from illegal practices such as dark web drug trafficking, to maximize their wealth. Evidence suggests that criminals have gone to the extent of hiring financial experts to help them in financial planning and buying of assets.
Late last year, a senior member of an Irish drug cartel named Kinahan was arrested during a classified operation where bitcoin and computers were seized in Amsterdam inside a heavily fortified residential building. “I was in Amsterdam at the time, in a joint operation between the Irish and Dutch targeting the Kinahan cartel where a bitcoin mining machine was recovered,” assistant commissioner John O’Driscoll said.
The Council of Europe Pompidou Group with over 34 countries representatives together with law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, Europol, Drug Enforcement Administration and Interpol are holding a joint meeting at Dublin to discuss matters including the dark web, cybersecurity, cryptocurrencies and how they are all connected.
“We faced significant difficulties and challenges in handling the use, buying and selling of dark web drugs with the help of cryptocurrency and encrypted software by criminal gangs,” a Senior Gardaí agent explained.
According to the head of Special Crime Operations, assistant commissioner John O’Driscoll, the phenomenon of the dark web and online drug trafficking is a global challenge and the dark web is now viewed as a platform for boundless innovation. “I have been involved in two major dark web operations including one of the first major Irish seizures involving the sale of online dark web drugs on the darknet in 2014,” he said. Neil Monnion and Richard O’Connor were arrested and sentenced following the operation.
“Gary Davis, a key administrator of the famous dark web illegal online market–the Silk Road, was based in Ireland before he was arrested during an extradition requested by the U.S. government,” Sergeant Colm Fitzgerald of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau said.
Mr. O’Driscoll said that the organized Irish criminal gang was using virtual currency to launder money and accumulate wealth which was later turned to “bricks and mortar and other businesses,” with the help of hired financial experts and professionals.
“There have been significant examples whereby shortly after Gardaí identified important data on the dark web, the sites were immediately closed down. However, we have a few cases before the courts of law, where we intend to present some of our data we managed to obtain shortly before these dark websites were closed or the available data was removed entirely,” Mr. O’Driscoll concluded.
In a different operation, a woman suspected to be a close associate of the Kinahan cartel was sleeping when the Drugs and Organized Crime Bureau raided her home. Over €250,000 in cash was found stuffed in her mattress.