A joint investigation between German and Netherlands police forces led to the arrest of several individuals suspected of running a darknet drug operation responsible for the distribution of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and hundreds of thousands of ecstasy pills.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, the Public Prosecutor of Münster and the State Criminal Police Office, with assistance from other officers have been working on one case for nearly a year/ According to an announcement from the Münster Prosecutor’s Office. The Office’s press officer, Attorney Martin Botzenhardt, wrote that the police in Münster, alongside the Customs Investigation Office in Essen, have been tracking a darknet drug trafficking syndicate that primarily operated from within the Netherlands. However, the syndicate’s packages of drugs entered the mail stream in Germany at a rate of almost three packages every day. Furthermore, several associates of the darknet vendor made trips in and out of Germany, smuggling drugs across the border to ship from within of Germany.
Dutch police in Enschede worked with their counterparts in Germany. The law enforcement agencies, in May, narrowed down the location of the darknet vendor and several of his associates. German authorities accomplished this through the seizure of roughly 1,000 packages allegedly mailed by a darknet vendor in the Netherlands city of Enschede. In total, the Customs Investigation Office in Essen intercepted 40,000 ecstasy pills and 125 kilograms of cocaine and heroin combined. The announcements never detailed the weights of the specific drugs seized by Customs.
During this process, German authorities worked with their counterparts in the Netherlands in an attempt to surveil the locations where some of the mail had originated. While actively investigating the darknet vendor, authorities in Germany recorded and identified the addresses and identities of the vendor’s customers. They did not reveal how many customers they identified, but they said many of the customers made frequent and regular purchases—the customers were reselling the drugs themselves. Customs and the police likely identified far fewer than 1,000 buyers. But the press release warned that those buyers should be expecting a knock at their door from an investigator. At least the buyers who had clearly purchased drugs for resale.
Officials in the Netherlands witnessed a large transaction occur between the vendor and two suspected drug smugglers in late May. German police tracked the two men after they had crossed into Germany and arrested them shortly thereafter. The duo, in total, had 6,300 ecstasy pills and 10 kilograms of unspecified “synthetic drugs.” The Public Prosecutor in Münster wrote that evidence connected the duo to the importation (into Germany) of 30,000 ecstasy pills and 80 kilograms of other, unspecified substances.
After arresting the two smugglers, German authorities learned the location of a building in the Netherlands where the darknet vendor stored many of his substances and packaged drugs. The suspected vendor rented at least one apartment for this purpose. In Enschede, Netherlands, police raided the apartment(s), arrested the suspected vendor, seized tens of thousands of ecstasy pills, and more than 100 kilograms of “synthetic drugs.” They also found mailing packages, bubble wrap, scales, and vacuum sealing systems.
Two suspects, the smugglers, wait in a jail cell in Germany where they face between 5-15 years in prison, the Public Prosecutor of Münster wrote. The vendor is currently sitting in a cell in the Netherlands awaiting extradition to Germany where he faces a much harsher punishment than his two employees.