Slovak law enforcement arrested 28-year-old Lukáš and 33-year-old Adam in a joint operation with the German Europol for participating in the illegal drugs and weapons trade on the dark web.
The two Bratislavan men were nabbed after months of investigations following the discovery of a large cache of narcotics in September last year.
The detainment of the two marks the first successful arrest of dark web drugs and weapons dealers in Slovenia, and has served as an eye-opener for local authorities who are now well aware of the rapidly growing drugs and weapons trade on the dark web.
The two are currently in police custody while awaiting trial for drug trafficking and selling weapons, charges that could fetch them up to 8 or 15 years each depending on which crime they’re convicted of.
September Raid Unearths Cache of Narcotics
Investigations into the illegal activities of the duo started in September 2016 after a police raid resulted in the discovery and seizure of 15,000 doses of cannabis, 117 doses of LSD, five firearms and 600 rounds of ammunition believed to belong to the two Bratislavan men.
The raid also produced login details belonging to the dark web accounts used by the two men to conduct their illegal businesses, which led to the discovery of a total of £203,000 worth of bitcoin in the two suspects’ online wallets.
Police say that the acquisition of this information was crucial to the eventual detainment of the duo, and it will aid the prosecution during the trial.
There was also mention of investigators using the nabbed suspects’ login information to identify a few other dark web dealers who specialize in the sale of firearms, explosives and narcotics.
But Slovak police have yet to dive into the details of that particular development.
Crime is Moving into the Virtual Space
Europol officer Jari Liukku noted the increasing migration of criminals into the dark web, a trend that is encouraged by the anonymity provided by those online platforms.
According to him, German Europol will be focused on putting an end to human trafficking rings, illegal migrant smuggling services, money laundering, document theft and forgery—all of which are rampant on the darknet.
Liukku spoke about the need for cooperation between the European Union’s member countries in the wake of the rapidly expanding dark web trade.
His sentiments were echoed by Slovak police chief Tibor Gašpar, who announced that the Slovak police’s cybercrime department wants to expand and hire 30 more investigators.
Europol Provides Crucial Assistance
The involvement of Europol in the recent arrest of these particular two crime suspects provided a deeper insight into just how well-established the dark web trade is in Slovakia.
It also proved essential information about the dealings of yet another vendor on the darknet who is currently residing in another EU member state.
Although investigations are still ongoing, he is believed to be the supplier of one of the firearms seized by the police in the September raid in Bratislava.
A Europol database confirmed that one of the suspects in custody is the administrator of a fairly popular dark web marketplace whose name remains withheld due to ongoing investigations into other users of the market.
Police say that the suspect has sold at least 10kgs of cannabis via the dark web site, which he has been operating since 2015.
At the moment, a joint operation between Europol and Slovakian police is looking into the activities of the other users of the dark web marketplace