According to an announcement from court officials in Bavaria, a judge in a Coburg court sentenced a 30-year-old darknet vendor to nine and a half years in prison and mandated drug and alcohol rehabilitation for running an international drug operation. The case ended roughly eight months after the eventful police chase and subsequent arrest in November 2017. The defendant still has the opportunity to appeal his sentence before heading to prison—an action that could easily lead to another six months of court appearances.
Since media outlets in Germany usually abide by the ethical journalism practices outlined in the German press codex, no publication—until the recent conviction and sentencing—has published the defendant’s real name. As of the sentencing announcement, media outlets have published part of it: Rhett D. Even though we have not written about the drug vendor under his real name, DeepDotWeb has covered many of the highlights revealed in previous court appearance. Until recently, the 30-year-old was known only by his darknet drug vendor pseudonym: Mr. Commander or Mister Drogenkommandant.
The man’s arrest required months of careful planning by German authorities, reports have described. And although DeepDotWeb had covered the arrest, recent details shine more light on an arrest that had already attracted attention due to law enforcement’s complex timing and careful execution of simultaneous raids. Multiple law enforcement agencies had watched the darknet vendor for months before making an arrest. They observed his patterns and learned the intimate details of his trade. They learned that Rhett D. left his home in the Netherlands to drop packages off at postal stations in Germany. They learned that he had also rented hotels in Germany where he often conducted drug transactions. Rhett D. had also employed six individuals in an effort to minimize his own travel.
German police had successfully arrested his employees without sending their primary target underground. And, as he described in the courtroom, he had not learned of any police investigation until the arrest had taken place. This argument, though, was not taken seriously by the Coburg judge who sentenced the darknet drug dealer. Rhett D. explained that the reason he had evaded German law enforcement on the day of his arrest was that he had not noticed that the cars chasing him were police vehicles. Even after he had rammed one of the cars, he explained, the thought of his arrest had not crossed his mind. The judge excused this argument as nothing more than a way to justify evading police and intentionally running into their vehicles.
While police arrested Rhett D., other units raided both his apartment and his mother’s house. His own apartment, while not completely devoid of evidence, provided nothing when compared to his mother’s house. The dealer’s mother had been hiding more than 80 kilograms of drugs for her son. Her stash included amphetamines, heroin, cocaine, and almost 30,000 ecstasy pills. His mother had already received a lenient sentence for her crimes.
The judge, in closing, explained that the case “proved” that law enforcement can catch criminals hiding behind the darknet.