The Finnish Supreme Court sentenced the admin of Sipulikanava to prison after finding him guilty of drug trafficking.
The creator and operator of the Finnish darkweb site Sipulikanava, Kim Holviala, was sentenced to five years and six months in prison after he was found guilty of distributing large quantities of drugs through the site between March 12, 2015, and October 31, 2017.
Holviala created the website on March 13, 2014. The website had both a discussion forum and a market section. In the market section, sellers and buyers were allowed to post advertisements. The ads included information such as the drugs for sale, the quantity of the drugs, the price of the drugs, an image of the drugs, and the advertisers’ instant messaging app ID.
Holviala created regional sections based on city or area of residence to make the market section more efficient. This made it easier for buyers and sellers to meet.
Finnish authorities took down Sipulikanava on November 1, 2017. The investigators believe the market section of the site facilitated the distribution of nearly six kilograms of amphetamine, around 12,000 ecstasy tablets, over 10 kilograms of marijuana, over 400 grams of cocaine, over 500 grams of MDMA crystals, over 200 grams of methamphetamine, and over 20,000 Rivotril tablets.
The prosecution charged Holviala with a felony drug offense. The prosecution argued that by maintaining the market section of the site, the defendant had acted as a drug broker by bringing the sellers and buyers of the drugs together. The prosecution also indicated that Holviala had purchased cannabis through the market section of the site. He was found in possession of five grams of marijuana.
The prosecution also charged him with aiding and abetting in 29 serious drug offenses and eight drug offenses because he assisted the perpetrators of the drug offenses before or during the crime by allowing them to sell or buy drugs through the market.
The District Court of Eastern Uusimaa found the defendant innocent of drug trafficking. The court maintained that since the buyers and sellers contacted each other on their own, Holviala’s maintenance of the market section could only be regarded as aiding and abetting, not brokering. The court, as a result, found the defendant guilty of aiding and abetting in seven serious drug offenses and 11 drug offenses and sentenced him to three years and four months in prison on February 11, 2019.
The prosecution filed an appeal with the Helsinki Court of Appeal. The court of appeal also held that the defendant ran the market does not mean he could be held responsible for the drugs distributed through the market. The court also said that the prosecution could not prove that the defendant acted as a mediator in any of the drug deals. The court, as a result, acquitted Holviala of the drug trafficking offense but found him guilty of aiding and abetting in 18 serious drug offenses and 12 drug offenses. The court of appeal sentenced the defendant to four years in prison on November 20, 2020.
The prosecution then filed an appeal against the judgment in the Supreme court. The supreme court agreed with the prosecution and found the defendant guilty of an aggravated narcotics offense. The supreme court maintained that by creating the marketplace, allowing buyers and sellers to post drug buying or selling adverts, and optimizing the site to increase its efficiency, the admin was actively participating in drug trafficking.
The supreme court, as a result, sentenced Holviala to five years and six months in prison.