European law enforcement agencies dismantled a Darknet drug trafficking network, seizing almost 800,000 doses of LSD and over $5 million in Bitcoin, IOTA, and Lumens.
The Infamous ‘Darknet’
The Deep Web or the “Darknet” gained a lot of notoriety back in 2013 when the United States FBI took down the Internet’s largest online black market and drug trafficking ring known as The Silk Road after an extended manhunt for the site’s libertarian creator, Ross William Ulbricht.
Ulbricht, better known by his deep web pseudonym, “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was charged with narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, and money laundering after his arrest at the Glen Park Branch Library in San Francisco on October 1, 2013. The FBI seized 144,336 Bitcoins during the Silk Road bust, which they auctioned for a meager $48 million.
Headlines about the Darknet dissipated shortly after the investigation, leaving people to assume that Darknet operations had either vanished entirely or become much smaller than they were during the Silk Road’s heyday.
The Silk Road Lives On
On June 28, however, a very similar story made headlines across Europe as the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Austrian Federal Police, supported by Europol, seized more than $5 million in cryptocurrencies from yet another deep web drug ring. According to an article from the EU Reporter, over 100 different types of psychoactive drugs, including nearly 800,000 doses of LSD, were seized from two different laboratories in Granada and Valencia, Spain.
Eight individuals were arrested on accusations of arranging a criminal organization for drug trafficking and money laundering. The organized crime group was shipping drugs out of Spain to at least 100 countries since 2012, disguising the drugs as legal products such as cement additives.
The raw materials for the psychoactive substances were imported from Asian countries to a laboratory in Amsterdam, Netherlands, which acted as the primary production facility for the crime group. They then shipped the products to the laboratories in Spain, where they were packaged and distributed to consumers across the globe.
Among the substances that were distributed were various forms of LSD, synthetic marijuana, nootropics, and synthetic opiates. The drugs were offered through exclusive Darknet websites that accepted new users only by referral.
It is increasingly apparent that so long as there remains a global demand for illicit drugs, Darknet markets will continue to sprout, and the cat and mouse game between law enforcement and drug traffickers will persist.
Will drug busts like these deter Darknet markets from continuing operations, or only force them to get smarter? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Image courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitcoinist archives
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