The dark web vendor famously known as “Shiny Flakes” may spend the next 7 years lighting up a jail cell.
This is after a German court handed him a seven-year jail sentence.
The 20 year-old, whose real name is Maximilian S, was the mastermind of the new defunct online drug-selling ring known as Shiny Flakes.
In March 2015, dark web and clearnet vendor, Shiny Flakes, made headlines when his arrest led to “one of the biggest dark web drug busts ever.” In a coordinated raid over 38 locations across Germany, the German police recovered close to 700lbs of illegal drugs.
Among the drugs seized included cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, amphetamines, marijuana, hash and methamphetamines.
Together with the 100 pounds bought by the Police during their months-long investigation, the drugs had an estimated market value of $4.25 million.
Besides drugs, the Police also recovered $51,000 in cash and $340,000 worth of Bitcoin – the popular online digital currency.
The largest bulk of drugs and cash were seized during a raid on an apartment in northern Leipzig – where Maximilian lived with his mother.
Childhood Bedroom Drug Vendor
Apparently, Maximilian ran his drug-dealing operations from his childhood bedroom.
His laptop, a few computers and shelves were all he needed.
In fact, close to 700 pounds of drugs were found stashed away in the shelves in his bedroom.
When his laptop was searched, it revealed an EXCEL sheet with the names and addresses of Shiny-Flakes clients – some in countries as far away as Indonesia.
The names were all unencrypted – something rare in the paranoid world of the illicit dark web.
The dark web is where Shiny Flakes carried out the majority of his business dealings.
Before his arrest, he was one of the leading suppliers in the burgeoning narcotics marketplace called Evolution.
Evolution was actually touted to be the new Silk Road.
It was considered the go-to place for illegal substances – until it suddenly closed in March 2015 – shortly after the Shiny Flakes bust unraveled.
Whether Evolution’s demise was related to the Shiny Flakes bust is unknown.
Before its closure, Evolution had close to 20,000 illicit drug listings.
Among the top vendors was Shiny Flakes.
In a forum post on Evolution in October 2014, Shiny Flakes advertised its illicit drug offerings.
On top of the ones seized by the German Police, it claimed it had Diazepam, Ketamine, Tramadol, Midazolam, Bromazepam and others.
It also promised to begin offering testosterone, heroin and fentanyl – a powerful painkiller.
Beyond The Dark Web
Shiny Flakes’ drug operations weren’t just limited to the dark web.
The drug ring also supplied customers through a regular website.
Unlike Evolution which was only accessible via the Tor Network, its regular website was accessible to anyone.
Before it was taken down after the drugs bust, the open drug store was hosted at Shiny-Flakes.com.
Anyone could visit it and place an order for drugs.
The website provided simple ways for would-be clients to place their orders anonymously.
All payments were also made anonymously via Bitcoin.
The drugs were then shipped through rather conventional means.
Packages were sent via DHL to bogus addresses.
The recipients knew how to get to them.
The sending addresses were also bogus.
In fact, it was one of the anonymous packages passing through a DHL logistic center which first roused suspicions.
Investigation And Arrest
According to the Leipzig Police, their investigation into Shiny-Flakes activities started in March 2014.
It started when a package failed to reach its intended destination, and DHL couldn’t find its return address.
When the mysterious package was opened, and revealed the drugs.
The investigation started off with watching the DHL nodal points from which the packages were dropped off.
Reusing the same nodal points is what caused Maximilian to first get identified.
After identifying him, the Police then put his mother’s house under surveillance.
This led them to discover his courier – a Bulgarian who brought the drugs from a Holland-based supplier.
The Bulgarian was arrested together with Maximilian during one of his deliveries.
How the Police linked Maximilian to Shiny-Flakes is not known – they have been quite tight-lipped about the details of their online investigations.
However, they performed test-buys from both his Evolution listings via the dark web and the Shiny Flakes website.
On the whole, the Police purchased 100 pounds of drugs from Shiny-Flakes.
They also intercepted numerous packages destined for different customers.
When they had gathered enough evidence, they moved in swiftly.
They stormed Maximilian’s house during a “routine” drug delivery by his Bulgarian courier and arrested both of them.
They also seized the drugs, money and computers.
Confession and Sentencing
After his arrest, Maximilian was charged with illegally trafficking drugs.
He was charged under German’s Juvenile system.
The charge normally carries a maximum 10 years sentence (if he’d been charged as an adult, he would have faced a maximum of 15 years).
Faced with the mountain of evidence, Maximilian confessed to everything.
He admitted to selling the drugs, and revealed how he ran his dark web operations.
He said that his motive for selling the drugs wasn’t just monetary – he enjoyed the thrill of outdoing his competitors.
He also claimed that he tested his drugs to ensure that they were safe.
One of his testing centers, he claimed, was at the University of Munich where researchers received a portion of cocaine to test his products.
When he was brought before a judge in the Leipzig District Court, he entered a guilty plea.
The prosecutor asked for an 8 year jail sentence.
However, the judge – Norbert Göbel – sentenced him to 6 years and 6 months in a Juvenile prison.
Irrespective of how things turn out, Maximilian’s sentence will certainly send shockwaves throughout the dark web illicit drug markets.
When the news of his arrest first broke, there was panic among his clients, suppliers and even competitors.
The sentence will certainly demonstrate that even when hiding in the murky alleys of the Dark Web, no one is beyond the reach of the long arm of the law.