In April 2017, a 37-year-old man from Leek had ordered numerous explosive devices on the darknet. The news only surfaced three months later at the suspect’s first court appearance. The court believed sufficient evidence existed to continue to hold the man until his sentencing hearing in December. However, at a September court appearance, the court allowed the man to leave police custody for personal reasons.
Dutch law enforcement received a tip from the F.B.I. regarding the suspect’s order, the public prosecutor revealed at the latest hearing. He had allegedly bought—from a darknet weapons vendor in the United States—two live hand grenades, 500 grams of Semtex, and several ignitors.
After the package allegedly shipped, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a notice to the Police in the Netherlands. As with many of these cases, the chances the Leek man had actually contacted and bought weapons from an actual darknet weapons vendor are likely very slim. Even if the agency investigating the vendor had profiled the vendor’s packages, the fear that a single package could slip through the agency’s grasp would be too great to allow the vendor to operate, even as an unknowing honeypot for buyers.
Of course, that is pure speculation, but after the firearm crackdown in Germany, the general consensus is that firearm vendors = law enforcement, more frequently than not. The reverse is true for actual firearm vendors, should any exist.
Regardless of whether or not a real darknet vendor sent the package or an undercover officer mailed the package—filled with inert materials—the FBI warned Dutch police far before package arrival. The 37-year-old defendant had ordered the package to be delivered to an address in in Groningen. Prior to the time of arrival, the Netherlands police—well versed in darknet matters—prepared for the suspect’s arrest. The package arrived at the address, but, again, we were not made aware of whether or not the shipment had contained any illegal weapons.
This was not a first for Dutch police: Prison Sentence For Dutch Man Who Tried To Purchase Assault Rifle And Explosives From The Darknet
If it had, the Netherlands police likely removed the explosives before the package even entered the mail stream. That is, of course, assuming the FBI or US Customs had not replaced the contents prior to shipping the package overseas. Police arrested the man soon after he had arrived at the address where he had picked up his package.
“My client was waiting for another package he ordered via the dark web, with memory cards”, Johan Mühren, the defense attorney, said. “Not [waiting for] a package with two hand grenades in it, but because he accepted the package, the police also think he had made the order.”
After his immediate arrest, police searched his Leek home. They found one thousand dextroamphetamine pills and a fake passport with the suspect’s photograph. Police kept him in custody until his mid-September hearing. The court denied his request to remain free until the hearing as evidence existed to keep him in prison, officials said. But at this most recent hearing, his request to leave succeeded. His partner had gotten pregnant.
And despite the fact that ample evidence to keep the man in custody remained, the court announced that the matter of pregnancy took a temporary precedence. As long as the suspect kept himself available for questioning at all times. This could, and likely will charge at the suspect’s next hearing in med-December.