French police have rounded five men suspected of running a dark web site to sell illegal drugs.
The five, according to court documents, set up the dark web site several months ago and have since stocked and sold a variety of narcotics to consumers.
They were arrested and placed in custody on March 15 and are now facing charges of running a website on the dark web where they have sold drugs to several customers for several months.
The hunt for them allegedly went underway a few weeks prior to the arrests, when the National Directorate of Intelligence and Customs received information about their existence.
When law enforcement caught the trail of the men linked to transactions in bitcoins from customers, their locations were identified and raids were carried out.
According to the Ministry of France, the traffickers had made upwards of half a million Euros in bitcoins as profit during the few months they had been on the dark web.
A source close to the investigation stated the platform sold virtually every kind of drug from cannabis sativa to cocaine, heroin, and MDMA, and offered free shipment as an aftersales service.
The ministry considered uncovering the guys behind the website.
According to the source, the task of tracing the suspects was par for the course as to what was expected – difficult and tedious thanks to the use of IP-changing software.
“It wasn’t obvious because on the dark web almost all users used scrambling software for their IP addresses,” the Ministry said.
While some suspects were not active contributors to running the website, law enforcement officers identified a 28-eight-old man, resident of Trappes, Yvelines as the main suspect.
According to the prosecution, the man owned user accounts with aliases similar to those used by users on Jihadist websites.
Law enforcement opted to dig more into his conversations and found threads communicated in Arabic and Islamic connotations, but found none bearing information pointing to terrorism or a terrorist group.
Each suspect was arrested separately.
The 28-year-old was apprehended after police raided his home and conducted a search.
An estimated 2kgs of cannabis resin and a few ounces of MDMA were seized during this raid alone.
The rest of his accomplices, Louvre, Lilas, and Gagny, were arrested separately in Louvre and Siene Saint Denis respectively.
House searches were conducted and, in total, drugs worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and a cache containing two pump rifles, a 357 Magnum revolver, and a Winchester were found.
The court documents allege that during a one-on-one conversation with the police during their arrests, some suspects partially admitted the allegation of setting up a narcotics business on the dark web.
The main suspect, who was arrested at his home in Trappes, admitted to the police that all the drugs seized during the search belonged to him.
The search also revealed that the suspect was a member of a well-known drug trafficking family in the town.
Up to now, nobody except the police knows the URL of the dark web site that the suspects listed and sold their drugs on.
It is, however, reported that a few of the website’s users had been arrested weeks earlier.
A couple was sentenced to jail term in French Polynesia for purchasing meth from the dark web site.
The two, according to reports, ordered 167g of meth from the Canada, Germany, and Netherlands-based vendors.
They allegedly ordered some of the drugs for consumption and resold the rest to other consumers.
In a single sale, they had sold 30 bags (0.1g each).
They described themselves as addicted users of meth, and seemed to admit to using the five suspects’ website as their only source of the drug.
The suspects’arrests come as one of the swiftest and most successful arrests of the dark web, noting that law enforcement arrested each and every member of the website’s administration in one takedown.
Like their clients before them, if found guilty, the suspects are likely to be handed jail terms and heavy customs fines as punishment.
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