Dutch law enforcement has attained yet another win in their fight against dark web drug trafficking.
In this particular case, the police have released a statement revealing that they arrested four people they believe were vendors associated with the now-extinct Hansa marketplace and more recently carried out their trade via Dream Market.
Three of the suspects, a 48-year old man from Werkendem and two men aged 32 and 50, were arrested after a raid by the police on four houses and an office in Amsterdam. The three suspects were caught with their systems logged into the dark web.
The fourth suspect, a man also from the Netherlands, was arrested in Werkendem; he was detained in a warehouse containing 3D printers the police believe were used to produce packaging materials for the illicit shipments.
The police claim they have been on the trail of the four suspects since the Hansa market takeover earlier last year. According to the police, the takeover enabled them to keep tabs on the notorious Dutch dark web drug vendor Doug-Heffernan. Doug-Heffernan specialized in cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA and other hard drugs, which were shipped all over the world via mail.
It is worth remembering that law enforcement kept Hansa Market running for a month after infiltrating it, meaning it is entirely possible they were able to accumulate information about vendors and buyers.
Using the credentials obtained from the takeover, it is possible for authorities to access and confiscate accounts opened by the vendors and buyers in the darknet markets they migrated to.
The police were able to uncover the identities of people behind Doug-Heffernan during the takeover, but the user disappeared immediately after the shutdown and did not appear in any other marketplaces. Other vendors dealing with the same drugs as Doug-Heffernan appeared in Dream Market, as market demand would facilitate.
The police were able to confiscate the vendors’ accounts leading to the raids that resulted in arresting of the four suspects. It is assumed the vendors used the same passwords as they used with Hansa Market, making it possible for the police to take control of their accounts.
From the raids, the police obtained names and addresses of suspected buyers as well as seized three cars, 3d printers, two firearms, a significant amount of drugs and an undisclosed amount of bitcoins. According to the Netherlands’ Opium Act, the four suspects could face imprisonment of up to 12 years for supplying drugs.
This case is a perfect reason for all dark web users to always use a different set of credentials in any darknet market they register to. Use of same credentials will help keep authorities on your trail.
Law Enforcement Winning?
Operations over the dark web are like a battle between the authorities and the dark web users who engage in illicit trading activities. Ordinarily, dark web users use darknet markets to sell or buy goods and services that are difficult or outright impossible to acquire through regular trading platforms.
To access the dark web, buyers and vendors go to great lengths to keep their identities hidden. On the other hand, authorities seem to have made it their mission to make sure trade through darknet markets fail and are willing to do everything in their power to make sure they arrest dark web vendors and customers.
Law enforcement has been succeeding in infiltrating and shutting down dark web marketplaces. Earlier last year, the feds shutdown AlphaBay marketplace – one of the largest marketplaces at the time.
This shutdown was followed by a successful takeover and the imminent takedown of Hansa Market by Dutch authorities.
The shutdown of AlphaBay resulted in a mass migration of dark web users to other markets, one of them being Hansa Market, which had already been infiltrated by Dutch law enforcement, meaning all new registrants had their credentials exposed to the authorities.
Exposed credentials can lead to the disclosure of users’ actual identities, as was the case with the four suspects arrested on March 13th in the Netherlands.
The fact that law enforcement can infiltrate and successfully run marketplaces leaves more questions than answers.
The truth is that dark web users are at the risk of being exposed and getting busted for making even the slightest of mistakes. Every shutdown of a darknet market leads to the rise of new marketplaces, though, meaning the dark web battle is still on.
Law enforcement is always fighting against dark web users while users are busy fighting against each other by means such as exit scams and fraudulent vendor accounts. Lack of trust between dark web users makes it easier for authorities to fight the battle and gain the ground they have.
As darknet-related arrests continue to make headlines, all darknet users must always remember that someone is always watching and waiting for a mistake to be made.
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