In November 2017, DeepDotWeb covered the investigation and arrest of several individuals who had allegedly been laundering Bitcoin and selling ecstasy and marijuana on the darknet. Some of the suspected dealers had been arrested two years prior for growing marijuana. Less than one year later, two of the same suspects landed in police custody for distributing marijuana.
The story truly began in 2015 when the police acted on a tip concerning a marijuana grow house in the city of Sneek. Police discovered 135 plants and the usual assortment of equipment used in similar operations. Authorities arrested two people living at the grow house and arrested about third person at his home in Sneek. Both sets of suspects had “cashed in a large quantity of bitcoins.” At the time, in early 2015, the police had not dealt with Bitcoin very frequently. They said they needed further information to learn where the growers had obtained Bitcoin.
One male suspect had 160,000 euros worth of bitcoin and the other had 280,000 euros worth of bitcoin. Although the first two suspects received prison time for cultivating marijuana, the single suspect managed to float through the money laundering charges as the police had very little evidence that proved he had been laundering money. However, in January 2017, they opened an investigation into the trio’s use of bitcoin and the one Sneek man without a conviction.
In October 2016, the police caught a 31-year-old in Sneek who had 65,000 ecstasy pills in his possession. That arrest led to connected arrests one year later. On October 31, 2017, Netherlands police announced that during an investigation into darknet drug trafficking and money laundering, they had arrested the same man in Sneek. They caught him, his accomplices, and seized tens of thousands of ecstasy pills.
Dutch officials allowed the primary suspect—a 33-year-old from Sneek—to leave prison on a conditional basis at the beginning of 2018. In May, German law enforcement started investigating a Sneek-based drug trafficking operation after they had intercepted a package of six kilograms of marijuana that had originated from Sneek. The German investigators shared their information with Dutch policemen who, this month, rounded up a number of suspects for the exportation of narcotics.
Two of those suspects had prior criminal records of interest to the police: two 33-year-old men who the police had arrested during the October 2017 raids in Sneek. One of the two, the police realized, had been present at the very beginning—he was the single person arrested in the marijuana grow operation bust. Another suspect had avoided arrest during the raids that occurred at 10 other houses in Sneek, but turned himself in to the police one month later in connection to the original investigation. In November 2017, the police announced the progress they had made in the investigation.
Dutch police are confident they have stumbled into a serious drug trafficking organization. They knew the suspects had been selling on the darknet as early as 2016. However, no matter how many dealers they arrest with connection to the primary suspects, the conspiracy keeps increasing in size.