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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Police Catch Three Members of Darknet Drug Trafficking Group

On March 15, The public prosecutor’s office in Ravensburg announced the details of a high-profile investigation. Since “at least the turn of the year,” the announcement began, law enforcement investigators tracked a drug organization with five known members. Throughout the course of “extensive” investigations, authorities learned the organization operated a darknet drug trafficking ring. They found more than just drug trafficking, too. The group dealt with stolen identities, fake IDs, and counterfeit Euro notes.

By the end of February 2017, authorities gathered enough intel about the group that they felt prepared to make arrests. The “criminal group” rented an “office” in Ehingen that served as their headquarters, the prosecutor’s office announced. Officers conducted surveillance at the office that lead investigators to two key elements that furthered the investigation. 

Investigators initially intercepted mail from the headquarters and discovered the scale of vendors they stated investigating. For example, in one package seizure, authorities found an entire kilogram (two pounds) of amphetamine. In another package, inbound to the group headquarters and addressed to the 38-year-old, the same investigators found counterfeit Euro notes. The more surveillance law enforcement conducted, more information about the group’s darknet operations surfaced.

The group owned apartments in the region—and law enforcement tailed or found out about all of them. When the time came for a raid, the police prepared themselves fully, the press release explained. The officers raided the group towards the end of February; they searched the apartments and office, resulting in the arrests of three men. They arrested a 31-year-old, 41-year-old, and 38-year-old. The 31-year-old, at the time of his arrest, was working on darknet orders with his computer online. Investigators then gained access to the group’s vending account and identified 700 transactions. The investigation into the transactions is far from complete, officials wrote.

During the raids, officers found five kilograms (11 pounds) of marijuana, two kilograms (four pounds) of amphetamine, more than 100 grams of cocaine, and several hundred ecstasy tablets. Police also found additional non-drug items as well—unquantified amounts of counterfeit money; stolen IDs; fake IDs; and tens of thousands of euros.

The District Court already saw the three men and allowed further investigation into the group’s actions. Furthermore, the Court authorised the pursuit of the two remaining members of the group. A 24-year-old woman and 31-year-old woman assisted the men in the operations, at a minimum. They played a supporting role at the very least, investigators told the Court. The women quite possibly held greater positions than supporting roles.

On March 10, police made the decision to make the case public knowledge. The Court ordered arrest warrants but the women vanished. Watchful eyes from the public, officers routinely explain, often make it far harder to hide as a suspect on the run. The police are confident that the women are guilty beyond reasonable doubt, they explained. And in closing, officers said that they “looked forward to the investigation at large.”
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