A Gang that Used the Dark Web to Supply Drugs Busted.
Europol has been on the frontline in the fight against dark web crimes. In its bid to acquire all the required forces, Europol recently held a conference at its headquarters and called upon law enforcing agencies from all over Europe to join hands and devise effective means of putting dark web crimes to an end. The conference brought together law enforcement agencies from 28 different counties. The Europol Dark Web Team whose role is to offer operational and technical support to law enforcement in fighting against crime in the dark web. The team supported an operation by Austrian and Spanish law enforcement, which led to the bust of a gang that used the dark web to supply synthetic drugs.
According to Europolâs press release, the gang was taken down after its joint operation with the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Austria Federal Police. The operation involved raids on six houses in Granada, Valencia, and Madrid, Spain, while only one house was raided in Austria. The raids resulted in the arrest of eight individuals who worked together to produce and supply synthetics drugs through the dark web.
The gang had been operating in Spain since 2012 and had two laboratories, one in Valencia and the other in Granada. They owned a third laboratory in Amsterdam, which they used as the production center from which the gang shipped to the other two laboratories for packaging and delivery. The gang used raw materials imported from China to make new psychoactive substances (NPS), that included synthetic opioids, cannabinoids, stimulants and depressants.
The gang sold the drugs through their dark websites that were accessible to invited users only. They packaged and shipped the drugs disguised as legal goods and accepted payments in Bitcoin, IOTA, and Lumen. They managed to supply to buyers in more than 100 countries. The gang manufactured over 100 different types of NPS. Apart from distributing NPS, the gang managed to sell large quantities of LSD.
The operation resulted to the seizure of 100 different types of NPS, over 800,000 doses of LSD, 510 BTC and other cryptocurrencies all worth 4.5 million euro, three real estate properties, 10 luxurious vehicles and 1.6 million euros in an Austrian bank account. The gang engaged in money laundering by exchanging the cryptocurrencies they had with cash. The arrested individuals are being accused of drug trafficking, money laundering and membership of a criminal syndicate organization.
New Psychoactive substances (NPS) are a wide of range of drugs designed in the resemblance of commonly used drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD. The drugs are designed to have chemical structures that lack banned chemical substances. Manufacturers of these drugs change the constituent chemicals in attempts to keep the drugs legal.
This is not the first joint operation that Europol has been involved in. In one of the latest cases, Europol partnered with the Romanian National Police and the Italian National Police, in a sting that resulted in the arrest of 20 cybercriminals connected to a one million euro heist.