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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Dark Web Vendors In Custody as Analysts Examine Their Computers

The public prosecutor’s office in Ravensburg announced a successful operation against a dark web drug trafficking ring. Well, they announced the successful completion of part of an operation – one that still needed work. But assistance from the public would help with the final steps. Since the start of this year, officers gathered intel on a five-headed group of dark web drug traffickers. When the police believed they gathered enough evidence for convictions, they raided the group’s headquarters. Officers arrested three men but noted that two women completely vanished.

During the raid, police found evidence that revealed the group functioned at a higher level than authorities suspected. Thanks to “extensive” Investigations into the group, police knew the five members did more than ship drugs worldwide; through the interception of incoming mail and other, similar tactics, police found fake IDs and counterfeit Euro notes. They naturally concluded that the group concerned themselves with not only drugs, but also various forms of fraud.

Prior to the raid and events following it, the authorities in Ehingen truly collected an incredible amount of information in a very short period of time. For instance, even though they chose to keep the surveillance a secret, the officers still grabbed incoming and outgoing mail—on occasion. They found the non-drug items, but they also put together a picture of the group’s volume and inventory.

Additionally, they discovered several apartments the group secretly traveled between when not doing drugs out of the “office.” Armed with an impressive amount of information about the group, police executed the raid. They raided every location in the city but only caught the three men. The three—a 31-year-old, 41-year-old, and 38-year-old—found themselves unprepared for a search of any sort.

In the office, officers found 11 pounds of marijuana, “more than 100” grams of cocaine, four pounds of amphetamine, and an unspecified number of ecstasy tablets that authorities only described as “several hundred” units. They found random non-drug items too. But the most important find came from the computers and electronic devices in the office.

At the time of the first announcement, forensic analysts Identified 700 transactions but little else. However, they also announced that authorities planned to continue the investigation beyond the search for both female members of the group who originally escaped. Forensic analysts would continue cracking through the seized computers from the raid, searching for customer and supplier data to pass on to relevant authorities in other jurisdictions.

In a recent development, police chief Wolfgang Jürgens told the public that a special team of cyber crime experts now worked worked on restoring any data possible. So far, he said, they were able to identify the majority of the smaller, mostly insignificant transactions. He explained that the group sold across various dark web marketplaces and oddly received more than the usual cryptocurrencies as forms of accepted payment. 

The police found that customers paid with Euro via bank transfers, by snail mail, and of course they paid with Bitcoin as well.

Police officers also confiscated a grand total of 90,000 euros and expected more to follow. While they do lack hard evidence to back up the theory, investigators believe the group smuggled the drugs from the 

Netherlands to Germany. And from Germany, directly into Austria. “Most of the IDs stolen in Austria”, said Jürgens. “Obviously, the group wanted to produce fake documents. Maybe to spend as an Austrian.”

While the police and prosecutor’s office consider the this “a major blow to the dark web,” they regretfully announced that both women still kept off the radar and made no developments in that department.
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