Netherlands Police Bust Three Darknet Traffickers
In early July, the National Police in North Holland raided eight locations in Amsterdam, Amstelveen, and Zandvoort. The searches were part of a January investigation into darknet vendors from the area. Police captured three suspects in their homes; the other locations contained drugs, firearms, cash, and manufacturing materials.
The police explained that in September 2016, the Specialized Post / Parcel Intervention Team (P2it) intercepted six drug packages. The interceptions continued through the end of 2016. Then, on January 2, National Office of the Public Prosecutor granted law enforcement the ability to open parcels that had been shipped by the suspected drug traffickers.
Within the outgoing packages, the police found ecstasy, hashish, MDMA, LSD, cocaine, and amphetamines. Investigators never explicitly described the investigation between the drug discovery and the actual takedown. Instead, they explained the steps police usually took. “The police initiate inquiries in order to find the sender,” officials wrote in a news update.
Police then use ordinary investigation procedures, “such as testing spores found in and on the packages, camera images, and track & trace [to] find the origin of the drugs.” The origin, they explained, was “online where they are traded.” The last step of the “ordinary investigation” ended with using those tactics to find the product vendor—which they did. The specifics are still unknown.
The press release speaks of the role played by the Netherlands in the international drug industry:
“International studies confirm that more and more drugs are marketed through illegal marketplaces on the Dark Web. Providers (vendors) the opportunity to get their Dark Web where anonymity to offer and buyers can buy it easily accessible and anonymous. Netherlands is the largest shipper of MDMA and Ecstasy to countries around the world. Criminals exploit the regular delivery process letters and packages for their drug trafficking.”
After sufficient evidence had been collected, the police marked eight locations where they believed they could find suspects or illegal materials. Of the locations, only four were houses. The remainder was made up of three garages and one cottage.
Police caught one of the suspects, a 36-year-old man, at his home in Amstelveen. They found two more suspects in their own homes, both in Amsterdam—a 31-year-old woman and a 40-year old man. The homes and garages yielded massive “vaults” of evidence. In the houses, police found a pistol, package sealing machines, a label writer, laptops, phones, and drugs. The garages, “filled to the brim,” contained drug manufacturing equipment, drugs, and resisted supplies. One of the suspects had 13,000 euro notes too.
The prosecution suspects that these three may have worked alongside another darknet marketplace vendor. The case is open and the investigation is ongoing.