The trial for the alleged administrators of DarkMarket began this week, nearly one year after German law enforcement shut down the market.
The trial for the alleged creators of DarkMarket began on Thursday, December 16, at the Trier District Court. The duo, a 35-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman, are charged with aiding and abetting in the distribution of narcotics in almost 1,500 cases.
Both defendants are Australian nationals who crossed into Germany from Denmark as a part of a long trip through Europe. The case is being tried at the Trier District Court because one of the largest vendors on DarkMarket was from the region, according to prosecutors.
According to public prosecutor Sebastian Hübinger, the defendant’s, through DarkMarket, facilitated more than 170,000 drug transactions.
DarkMarket, the world’s largest illegal marketplace on the dark web, has been taken offline in an international operation involving Germany, Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, the United Kingdom (the National Crime Agency), and the USA (DEA, FBI, and IRS). Europol supported the takedown with specialist operational analysis and coordinated the cross-border collaborative effort of the countries involved.
DarkMarket in figures:
- almost 500 000 users;
- more than 2 400 sellers;
- over 320 000 transactions;
- more than 4 650 bitcoin and 12 800 monero transferred.
At the current rate, this corresponds to a sum of more than €140 million. The vendors on the marketplace mainly traded all kinds of drugs and sold counterfeit money, stolen or counterfeit credit card details, anonymous SIM cards and malware.
DarkMarket used CyberBunker as a hosting provider for the marketplace until law enforcement shut down the hosting provider. Multiple I.P. addresses associated with DarkMarket, including 126.96.36.199, leaked after German law enforcement had seized the CyberBunker infrastructure. However, the administrators quickly moved the market to servers located in Moldova and Ukraine. The seized CyberBunker servers were the basis of the investigation into the marketplace.
This should be an interesting trial. We do not know much about the investigation yet. However, many online have indicated that the administrator of DarkMarket lacked the skills to safely run a criminal marketplace. They did very well for a market based on a freely-available marketplace script and had nearly monopolized the sector at the time of their arrest.