A Maltese man pleaded not guilty to attempting to import explosives from a vendor on the darkweb. In addition to the attempted purchase and importation of improvised explosive devices, the defendant allegedly attempted to purchase polonium, ricin, and fentanyl.
According to reports on the case, the testimony of Superintendent George Cremona explained how Jomic Calleja Maatouk attempted to purchase Polonium and C4 explosives on the now-defunct Berlusconi marketplace. The Superintendent told the court that Maltese authorities had initiated the investigation after being informed by foreign law enforcement that someone had attempted to buy polonium, ricin, and fentanyl on the darkweb.
According to the Superintendent, Maatouk’s attempt to purchase weapons on the dark web began in June 1, 2019. The defendant reportedly used a number of pseudonyms including, “unknown 893”, “2F108X’‘2”, “Foxtrot108XRAY”, and “MONIKER 2F108X” to contact the weapons vendor on Berlusconi.
Maatouk and the Polonium vendor also discussed the Polonium order via secure emails. During the discussions the defendant was told that the Polonium package would be hidden in Bluetooth speaker to avoid detection by LE. The vendor also told the defendant that nobody would suspect Polonium because it only emits alpha radiation and that the target would die of pneumonia within two weeks.
After Maatouk learned that Polonium has no odor or taste, he agreed to place the order. The vendor asked the defendant to send him the height and weight of the victim for dose calculation. The defendant told the vendor that he needed five doses but would order more later. The vendor told the defendant that they would start with one dose as five alpha radiation deaths at once would raise suspicion.
The vendor asked the defendant to give him the delivery address and the defendant gave him a UK forwarding address. While giving the address, Maatouk told the vendor that he knew a potential buyer of ricin in the UK. The defendant paid for one dose of Polonium with 0.046 bitcoin.
The C4 Explosives
The defendant was then reportedly contacted by a US vendor via his Protonmail email address.
The vendor told Maatouk that he had Glock handguns, suppressors, and C4 explosives for sale. The defendant expressed interest in the C4 explosives and the vendor told him that he was selling C4 blocks for $750 a piece.
The vendor then sent the defendant instructions on how to safely insert the detonator and mercury switch into the C4. Maatouk told the vendor that he wanted to place the C4 in a car and the vendor told him that the best way to attach it to the car would by using a large magnet.
The Controlled Delivery
The Superintendent told the court that he was part of a team that flew to an Arizona air force base to witness law enforcement insert a dummy explosive into a Bluetooth speaker. Law enforcement then mailed the speaker to the address Maatouk had provided.
During the controlled delivery, the defendant refused to sign for the package. During the investigation, authorities learned that a source at the logistics company had warned Maatouk of the controlled delivery.
Law enforcement still executed a search and arrest warrant. During the search, police seized drugs and a number of electronic devices. Forensic investigators in the United States provided assistance during an examination of the recovered devices.
Maatouk, while out on bail, allegedly contacted the supposed vendor and informed him that law enforcement had intercepted the package containing C4. Authorities arrested Maatouk only days after he had contacted the vendor.
The prosecution now objects to Maatouk’s release as the identify of his target remains unknown.