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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Four Defendants Sentenced In Dutch Vendor Shop Case

Four suspects were sentenced in the Netherlands for charges, including the running of a vendor shop on the dark web selling narcotics, drug trafficking, and money laundering.

According to the court documents, the defendants were running a vendor shop on the dark net selling drugs under the pseudo names “Amsterdam United” and “King Albert Heijn”. The suspects used various marketplaces on the dark web to export narcotics, such as amphetamine, LSD and ecstasy pills. The vendors accepted bitcoins for payments, which they later converted into euros and cashed out. According to law enforcement authorities, the criminals laundered the dirty money.

When cyber criminals seek to swap dirty BTC to clean ones, they can do it easily with bitcoin mixers and tumblers. In addition to the drug-related charges, the prosecution charged all accused persons with money laundering and some of them with tax fraud. Only one defendant, “Suspect K.”, the partner of the accused V., was only convicted of “debt laundering”.

The main suspect, the 27-year-old V. was sentenced to six years in prison. The prosecution recommended a sentence of eight years in jail for the defendant, however, this is the usual punishment given for the accused persons in such cases. The court dismissed the 27-year-old’s lawyer’s argument in the case. The court sees him as the person who conducted the narcotics trade with the vendor account Amsterdam United. The accused claimed that he only helped once in connection with an IT problem around the Private and Public (PGP) key for the account. However, the court found the statement not credible in the view of the findings of the investigation. The court based the decision on the evidence investigators had gathered in the case. Forensic experts have examined the messages the suspect exchanged on his laptop and iPhone and analyzed the NFI report on the drugs that the 27-year-old allegedly supplied to co-defendant P. in December 2014. Additionally, the prosecution charged V. with money laundering. By the law, trading with bitcoins is legal, however, law enforcement authorities discovered that the suspect was using tumblers and mixers for the BTC to clean them. Officials also found out that the defendant earned most of the cryptocurrency with the narcotics trade.

The 57-year-old P. was sentenced to four years and six months of imprisonment. Since he was actively participating in the dark net narcotics trade, the prosecution recommended a six-year sentence for the suspect. However, because the 57-year-old admitted his crimes and had a clean criminal record, the court provided him a 1.5-year “discount”.

The court convicted the 26-year-old Pf. to a prison term of three years. According to the court documents, the defendant acted as the administrator of the King Albert Heijn vendor account and sold narcotics in bulk quantities. Despite the prosecutor’s request for eight years, the judge gave the suspect only three years in prison since the court heard that the 26-year-old was not directly involved in the narcotics trade.

The court sentenced the 35-year-old K. to 240 hours of community service (the prosecutor recommended 240 hours of community service and two months of suspended imprisonment). The court dismissed the money laundering charges against the woman. Although there are indications that she knew that the money and the goods were from the crime, the court ruled that this was not enough for a conviction. However, the court found the 35-year-old guilty of “debt laundering”. She had a lasting relationship with Suspect V. and lived with him for quite some time. According to the court documents, they lived a luxurious life, including going on expensive vacations. The court accused her that she had made too few critical questions about the origin of the cash flows and goods.

According to the investigation, the whole narcotics operation was conducted in a professional manner using different usernames on anonymous marketplaces, including the Silk Road Marketplace, Agora, and Evolution. The defendants planned all steps carefully and exported drugs to various countries. The suspects prioritized personal gain over the safety of the customer’s, court documents claimed. By laundering the criminal assets, the suspects affected the legal economy and also remained hidden from the tax authorities. Additionally, the court seized the income the suspects made with the narcotics trade, and the products they bought with the funds.

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