Berlin Darknet Vendors Sentenced to Prison
Not even three months after their wedding, Daniel B. and Juliana B. landed in police custody for drug distribution. In November 2016, police in Berlin arrested the couple after an investigation into suspicious banking activity led to the discovery that the partners sold drugs on darknet marketplaces. And finally, in July, the judge handed down their punishments.
Daniel, the 35-year-old husband, argued that he alone operated the business. From the very start, he claimed all responsibility and that his wife knew nothing of his actions. As the evidence against the pair surfaced, the defence changed—only slightly. He argued that his wife was “only a helper.” Daniel attributed the majority of the work to himself.
The prosecution knew that Daniel, without a single doubt, sold drugs. Investigators gathered evidence that indicated the two sold on darknet marketplaces for more than a year prior to the arrest. Many factors invalidated Daniel’s argument that his wife knew nothing. For starters, police found piles of drugs during the raid of the newlywed couple’s apartment. In total, 3000 ecstasy tablets, 90 grams of cocaine and nearly 800 grams of MDMA. The drugs matched those that the two sold online, save for the missing amphetamine.
After making sales, they deposited the earned Bitcoin in Juliana’s bank account. Their trafficking earned a total of $279,000. (Gross $330,000)
Juliana became the subject of investigation for the suspicious deposits and withdrawals to and from her bank account. She initially explained that she knew nothing of what Daniel did with the account. According to Juliana, Daniel used an account under her name because of a prior criminal history.
After sufficient evidence surfaced, as with Daniel, her story changed from one of pure innocence. She said that Daniel sold a long time before the marriage and she begged him to stop. “[I stopped] until I got a very good offer in August 2016 and then I started again,” Daniel said. Juliana claimed she told Daniel, just partners at the time, that she would help until he sold the stockpile of drugs they had amassed.
She said that even after agreeing to help, all she did was run packages and let Daniel use her bank account. “I just took something on the way to work and put it in the box,” she claimed. Investigators watched the wife frequently mail packages. The prosecutor argued that she had been more than a mere “helper.” She was also an accomplice to the “darknet business.” He asked for a four year sentence for Juliana and a six year sentence for Daniel.
The judge effectively gave the prosecutor what he had requested. Juliana will spend four years and two months in prison. Daniel will spend five years and six months in prison.