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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Austrian Man Faces 15 Years In Prison For Serious Drug Charges

An Austrian man is standing trial for ordering large amounts of narcotics from the dark web, which he partly resold to customers.

According to the court documents, a 28-year-old man is standing trial at the regional court in Linz, Austria. The prosecution accused the defendant of ordering heroin in large quantities and cocaine in small quantities, along with drug trafficking charges. Police information disclosed that the suspect ordered about 750 grams of heroin and cocaine in small quantities from darknet vendors residing in the Netherlands. The 28-year-old allegedly sold part of the narcotics to his customers, while he consumed the rest of the substances. The accused could face 15 years of imprisonment for his alleged crimes.

Law enforcement authorities in Vöcklabruck, Austria arrested two suspects who were also involved in the dark net narcotics trade. The two men, one from Vöcklabruck and the other from Linz, are accused of “putting large amounts of cocaine into circulation” since October, last year. One of them is an owner of a business, who allegedly sold cocaine to his customers in holding tanks or bread baskets. Investigators managed to identify twelve of the duo’s customers. Updates in both cases could be expected in the future.

According to a report conducted by the Federal Office for Crime (BK) at the end of the last year, the drug offenses are the highest in Austria in the period of 10 years. The study showed that in total 33,000 suspects were reported for narcotic-related offenses in 2015, and law enforcement authorities in the country seized over 20 tons of drugs with cocaine seeing a significant increase from 31 kilograms in 2014 to 120 kilograms in 2015.

Law enforcement authorities in the country said that they are “continuing to pay special attention to the development of the transport of drugs through the Balkans”, and they are seeking international cooperation to crack down on the narcotics trade.

The report mentioned traditional drug smuggling, including of heroin and opiates from Afghanistan, herbal cannabis from Albania, and cannabis resin from Morocco. However, most importantly, the researchers emphasized that the illegal drug activity on the dark web is booming in Austria. As a result, according to the officials, law enforcement authorities are strengthening collaboration with financial and customs authorities to tackle the dark net narcotics trade, which uses dark web marketplaces on the internet as platforms, and the national postal service for drug deliveries.

In response to the data published by the BK, the Hanf-Institut – who promote the use of cannabis as a medicine and relaxant – say the authorities are wrongly focusing on “small fry”. Toni Straka, Head of the Hanf-Institut, said that they are particularly critical of the focus on cannabis offences and the high costs associated with the prosecution of a regular cannabis user. They claim the Austrian state is spending over €400 million – or on average €15,000 per case – to prosecute “just victimless ‘criminals’”.
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