German police have arrested a 30-year-old man believed to be the sole administrator of a dark web marketplace that sold a pistol to Ali Sonboly, who later used the weapon to carry out last year’s Munich massacre.
The dark web marketplace run by the suspect deals in the sale of both drugs and weapons, in addition to various other illicit paraphernalia.
According to reports, the alleged dark web site administrator, whose name remains withheld at the moment, was apprehended on June 8 in South West Germany after ongoing investigations led the authorities to his location.
It is reported that both the darknet market and the server on which it was hosted were seized shortly after he was placed into custody.
Munich Killer Murdered Nine, Injured Dozens
Sonboly, 18 years old at the time, reportedly secured the Glock 17 pistol used in the 2016 attack, along with 300 rounds of ammunition from the unnamed dark web site shortly before the tragic event.
According to police, he had met with the weapons dealer, a 31-year-old man who was arrested in Marburg a few months after the attack, on two separate occasions during which he had obtained the gun and ammunition.
The Glock 17 pistol, according to police, was a reengineered version of what was intended to be a blank-firing pistol.
The weapon had been enabled to fire live ammunition—something which is illegal in the majority of European countries and EU member states.
Reports of the incident say that Sonboly started his shooting rampage at a crowded shopping mall as he fired randomly into the crowd, killing nine and injuring an estimated 35 people.
Witnesses say that the teenager, who was later reported to be under psychiatric care and not affiliated with any terrorist organizations, could be heard hurling insults at foreigners and innocent pedestrians shortly before he pulled out the gun and started shooting indiscriminately.
The Munich shooter is said to have turned the gun on himself after the attack, killing himself instantly.
Site Administrator Arrests are a Rarity
Dark web sites, such as the one that gave weapons to the Munich mass-murderer, allow users to thrive under the cover offered by anonymity tools such as Tor.
In the increasing amount of dark web arrests that have been made over the past few years, darknet market administrators are rarely netted by law enforcement.
The 2013 takedown of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was the biggest bust ever seen on the dark web, but recently more and more high-profile arrests have been popping up on the front pages as the authorities catch up to cyber criminals hidden under layers of encryption.
Dark Web’s Weakest Links
The post office remains one of the weakest points of security for drugs and weapons dealers—a point that was emphasized by the recent arrest of a suspected fentanyl dealer who raised American postal workers’ suspicions when they noticed he wore white latex gloves every time he delivered parcels.
Despite the lack of details about how the German police finally caught up with the site administrator in this arrest, it is clear that they are becoming a lot more proficient.
The arrest of the cyber criminal who sold the weapon and ammunition to the Munich mass-murderer could have played a huge role in the identification and eventual arrest of the unnamed dark web site administrator.
More than once, the police have been able to climb up the chain of command in these dark web hierarchies, simply by getting a hold of product recipients or any of the middlemen involved.
Last year, however, Australian Border Force police hinted at having more sophisticated means of catching up with these cyber criminals after they attributed the arrest of a fentanyl dealer to the Force’s ability to detect darknet transactions.