The criminal trial against the 35-year old Paul T (not his real name) for alleged heroin and cocaine distribution through the dark web is currently in session in Germany.
A cyber-cop from the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) or The Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany has been the main figure, a key player in this sting operation which happened nearly a year ago.
The Bavarian task force caught the rogue dark web dealer trying to sell heroin and cocaine while bragging about the quality of the narcotics as “Top-stuff from Münich.” The undercover policeman briefly explained what happened.
It all started when the German police received intelligence from the Dutch police regarding a darknet server based in the Netherlands. Mainly, records of a particular individual who sold both heroin and cocaine on separate darknet forums claimed the hard drugs to be best in all of Münich. The archived data is from 2015 and 2016.
Furthermore, pictures of the drugs were also put up on the forums alongside the selling offer; photographs that are currently dismissed by defense attorney Kai Wagler as being inconclusive, claiming that it could be anything. On the other hand, nothing has been publicly declared by the 35-year-old suspect about his allegations.
A GERMAN TREND
The news comes as part of an ever-increasing trend of cyber infractions in Germany. More so, drug-related infractions on the deep web are committed quite often in Germany, but after the infamous mass shooting in Munich of 2016 and other gun-related crimes, the police acquired increased authority in order to combat the phenomena.
As a matter of fact, the German parliament passed a bill this May which gave the police power like they never had for before. The Bavarian Police Task (PAG) bill allows policemen to conduct various operations against cybercrime without the heavy bureaucracy and Judge approvals needed before. Nowadays, cybercrime is considered a national threat with ramifications leading even to terrorist organizations. Therefore, the police can now act more autonomously in pursuit of all kinds of cyber villains. This comes as bad news for anyone on a dark web marketplace looking for drugs. You will likely be caught in the larger crosshairs of governments bringing down terrorism and drug crime globally.
SMALL FISH IS EASY FISH
Hundreds of individuals or small organizations are caught each year in Germany. The most vulnerable are the narco-traffickers due to the back-and-forth nature of the exchange and because such organizations are not properly equipped to completely hide their traces. And for a determined German law enforcement agency, basic security procedures are not that challenging to break. A sting operation follows and the case is sealed.
Furthermore, being a small-time criminal on the deep web is ever-more complicated in this day and age because it lurks in the shadows of a larger threat: terrorism.
The U.S. Department of State considers Berlin to be a high-threat location for its diplomats due to the underground terrorist activity and networking. The U.S. government monitors the activity of ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaida, Kurdistan Workers’ Party etc. Such state-like organizations have a much more sophisticated technology and resources to get by ordinary controls. Oftentimes they use private-owned transports, military encryption methods, fundamental ideology, kamikazes, and so on.
Also worthy of mentioning is the fact that, contrary to narco-trafficking, terrorism-related deals on the dark web are mostly one-timers. This means less exposure. Furthermore, authorities are also concerned that some terror deals may be literally unidirectional and free of charge! For example, an indoctrinated person might receive the tools for a mass attack over the internet as a “donation.”
NARCOTERRORISM, RADICALISATION, AND HACKING
While intentions do matter in any court, some might be at least misinterpreted. Consuming or producing drugs, unconstitutional propaganda, counterfeit money, or hacking through security software might result in sentencing even without malicious intent.
WHAT’S TO BE EXPECTED
German law specifies that the cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution of narcotics carry a penalty to up to five years of incarceration, depending on the schedule, intent, and quantity. The penalty range can be extended to up to 15 years for exceptional aggravating circumstances involving minors, gangs, terror organizations, firearms, fraud etc. These minimums are set forth in the EMCDDA guides.