Four members of a 12-person darkweb drug trafficking organization were sentenced to prison for drug crimes at a recent hearing at the Bonn regional court. Prosecutors accused the defendants of selling more than 1.3 million euros worth of ecstasy and cannabis products.
The first four members of the group were sentenced in January 2020.
According to reports, investigations led by the Cologne public prosecutor for cybercrime (ZAC NRW) established that the group had been selling “flavored cannabis products” and ecstasy on the darkweb. The group operated out of two two storage units in Sankt Augustin and Bonn. The “high-ranking” members of the group controlled the darkweb vendor accounts and sourced the drugs. The other members packaged the drugs, labelled them, and dropped packages off at post offices in the region.
Investigations into the group’s activities began after the ring sent a drug package without sufficient postage. The package was subsequently returned to the sender. The dealers had used a return address on the package that belonged to a party with no connection to the operation. A company in Bonn received the mail and handed it over to the police after discovering the package’s contents.
Law enforcement, after the company had received the package of drugs, started monitoring mailboxes in the region. During the investigation, the police observed co-conspirators drop more than 200 packages of drugs into mailboxes every day.
The police followed the co-conspirators from various mailboxes and post offices to the storage units used by the group as well as many of the homes owned by other members of the organization. In October 2018, the Siegburg police raided the group’s storage units and houses. The raids resulted in the discovery of scales, shipping supplies, and undisclosed amounts of cannabis products. Law enforcement also arrested twelve suspects for their roles in the operation.
The twelve suspects were then divided into three groups of four members each to simplify the trial process.
On April 1, the spokesman of the Bonn Regional Court announced that the second group of four members of the 12-member operation had been sentenced. According to the announcement, two of the defendants had a significant role in the drug trafficking operation and were sentenced to six years and ten years in prison. The third defendant—a 45-year-old—had collaborated with investigators by turning over the group’s transaction history as well as a list of the addresses of more than 10,000 of their customers. He received a sentence of only three years in prison. The fourth defendant received a suspended sentence.
The first four members of the group were sentenced in January 2020. One of the defendants was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. The other three were sentenced to suspended terms of between ten months and two years.
The trial against the last four defendants was temporarily suspended and will be resumed after the COVID-19 pandemic.