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Revealed – How Authorities Seized Germany’s Biggest Dark Web Market “Chemical Revolution”

chemical revolution

Cocaine, ecstasy tablets or marijuana – Germany’s largest drug shop had this and much more in its range. The stuff came in the mail – until the operators got busted by the police.

The investigators ordered drugs 17 times through their market: including ten grams of marijuana for 100 euros, 25 ecstasy tablets for 112.50 euros, 50 grams of “Colombian Cocaine” for 3010 euros. The “particularly high quality” from the test purchases was “to be emphasized” , explain investigators in internal documents of the Federal Criminal Police Office.

Thousands of pages record the unusual ways the investigators had to take to catch the operators of Germany’s largest drug platform. Under the name “Chemical Revolution”, a group of cybercriminals sold various narcotics on the Internet, including amphetamine, cannabis and MDMA, as well as cocaine and heroin. According to the investigators, the operators earned more than one million euros.

Online drug trafficking at rise

“It can definitely be ascertained that the drug trade on the Internet has increased steadily in recent years and is currently leveling off at a high level,” explains the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) “. According to the BKA, there are currently no reliable figures to what extent the corona crisis has fueled this trend. But one thing is already clear: Already before Corona, more and more narcotics were sold online and sent by post.

Drugs sent home by mail

Mailing also played a major role in “Chemical Revolution”, the files show. Apparently ordered drugs also came home by mail. Observation photos show young men with supermarket bags in front of DHL packing stations as they place suspected drug orders across the city. In addition, the investigators read chats from suspects and listened to phone calls. So also one between two members of “Chemical Revolution”, when one of them stood at a packing station. The two employees said:

“How can you drop off parcels at the post office?”

“How do you mean it now?”

“I’m at the Packstation right now, but how can I drop off parcels? Do I just have to put them in here somewhere?”

“Yes, you have to press send.”

New group of perpetrators: “young, male, computer savvy”

According to the BKA, digital drug dealers are often “young, male, computer-savvy people”. Often these perpetrators are still relatively “new to the business” and are not integrated into existing networks as much as the “classic” perpetrators. At least in part, this seems to be the case with “Chemical Revolution”.

All suspects are male, only one of them is older than 40 years. The alleged head of “Chemical Revolution” is 27 years old and called himself “Joko” on the Internet. According to the investigation, he kept in touch with a Dutch man who supplied the drugs. The investigators assume that courier drivers transported the drugs to Germany. Afterwards, so-called “runners” are said to have portioned and packaged the drugs in a changing line-up, in order to then send them to customers by post in standard or express delivery.

This digital drug delivery service can attract new groups of buyers to the drug market, explains the BKA. Current figures therefore indicate that rural regions will be reached somewhat more strongly. In general, the Darknet offers buyers “relatively easy and supposedly safe access to narcotics”, which is why customers may also be addressed who have previously been deterred by conventional dealers, for example at the train station.

Trapped by a traitor

The internal documents, which are available now, reveal an end to the investigation as if from a crime novel: The operators of “Chemical Revolution” contacted a friend who once helped build the shop. He arranges a buyer for their remaining drug stocks. What the makers of “Chemical Revolution” did not know at the time: this acquaintance has been working with the authorities for a long time. In this way, the traitor gives them contact with a supposed drug buyer, but he is actually a covert investigator at the BKA. Finally he wrote in a chat with the drug supplier:

“Do you want to do a business?”

“Yes, I have some stuff. – Are you interested?”

“Yes definitely – what exactly do you have?”

“A lot of stuff: weed, speed, LSD or heroin.”

Showdown in a parking lot

The alleged drug buyer is supposed to hand over 40,000 euros in a sports bag at a Rewe parking lot in Hamburg. For this he should receive over twelve kilograms of various intoxicants. The investigators listened to the meeting. Shortly before the handover, the undercover BKA investigator confirms: “Everything is fine, tutto paletti.” Apparently this is a code word, because shortly afterwards the colleagues arrested the suspects.

Almost all members of “Chemical Revolution” will be transferred in February 2019. Only the head of the group will not be caught at first because according to investigators, the real name of “Joko” does not even know all of its employees. Most of the time, it communicated via encrypted messengers The BKA also describes technical anonymization options as “probably the greatest hurdle in the investigation of ‘digital’ drug offenses.”

So it is only small mistakes digital perpetrators make that can unmask them: The presumed head of “Chemical Revolution” f,is inally revealed by an order of pizza. Investigators manage to trace the payment back to “Joko”. So they unmask the alleged leader of the group and arrest him in May 2019.

He and ten other people have been charged in no small quantities for unlawful drug trafficking. A trial date is still pending.

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Written by Kofi Anash

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