Just a few months ago, the Dutch National Police made a promise to actively investigate and prosecute people suspected of purchasing and selling illicit substances via the dark web.
Now, it would seem that the law enforcement authorities are staying true to that promise.
Information from local news outlets in the Netherlands reveals that two men from the country are the latest subjects of the crackdown.
The two men, both 23 years old, have been served with prison sentences by a Dutch court for dealing drugs on the dark web.
Mike W. from the city of Muiden and Thijs V. from the city of Houten were the defendants in the case. Both men will have to serve a sentence of 6 years each for their involvement in illicit drug trade.
The two drug dealers were supposedly directly involved in the distribution of dozens of pounds of hard drugs.
Their main product was the drug Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), the psychoactive drug commonly referred to as ecstasy.
The men employed several tactics to avoid detection by law enforcement authorities while moving their products.
They disguised most of the packages as unassuming gifts including packing the drugs in postcards and peanut butter jars.
The packages, most of which carried MDMA, were then shipped off to clients in different parts of the world.
The court that heard the case stated that Thijs V. and Mike W. took extra efforts to execute the trade in a refined and careful manner.The men had purportedly traded illicit substances valued at more than $470,000 (approximately 400,000 Euros) before they were arrested by Dutch law enforcement authorities.
Mike W. had an additional crime added to his lawbreaking record. He was found guilty of money laundering.
The two dark web drug dealers had an interesting statement in as part of their defense. They insisted that they only thought they were dealing with food supplements in the entire duration of their activities.
The court was quick to denounce this assertion as false. Chat logs from the popular messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram between Thijs and Mike duly revealed that the two were indeed involved in the dark web drugs trade.
The six-year sentence that the court gave the two men was a slightly more lenient punishment. The reasons for this were that the men had no prior convictions, that they are relatively young and that they’re still students.
The maximum sentence that could have been given for their crimes is seven years.This case would seem to be a minor win for Dutch law enforcement authorities as they seek to combat drug trade facilitated by dark web marketplaces.
This comes after Dutch authorities were involved in the takedown and seizure of the two largest dark web marketplaces, AlphaBay and Hansa, following one of the largest covert drug stings in recent times.
That international operation was led by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations and Drug Enforcement Agency, as well as the European law enforcement agency Europol.
Other countries that were involved include Thailand, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Lithuania.
AlphaBay and Hansa facilitated the buying and selling of illegal drugs, counterfeit goods, fraudulent identification documents, computer hacking tools, toxic chemicals and firearms across the globe. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions termed the operation one of the most important criminal investigations of 2017.
Rob Wainwright, an executive director of Europol, regarded the takedowns as among the most successfully coordinated in recent history.
Following the bust, Dutch law enforcement agencies continued to covertly operate the websites for a month. During this period, they collected information on the users of the two dark websites.
There were a number of reports from users about Dutch police going after buyers from the Hansa marketplace.
Some users took to Reddit to warn their fellow dark web users about the active investigations by Dutch law enforcement authorities.
One such user claimed to have been contacted by the police regarding a $20 purchase, although the claim could not be verified.
What is known is that Dutch law enforcement authorities vowed to investigate Hansa users and go after hundreds of dark web buyers.
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