According to a joint press release of the public prosecutor’s office in Ravensburg and the Ulm police on March 10, law enforcement authorities busted a dark web narcotics ring with at least five members. Extensive investigations had been going on in the case since the end of last year. Police arrested three suspects at the end of February.
According to official court documents, the group rented an office in Ehingen for their criminal actions. The defendants allegedly ordered the narcotics from abroad, which they resold to their customers on the dark net. Investigators discovered the groups’ illicit activities when customs intercepted one of the suspects’ packages containing a kilogram of amphetamine. Officials seized another parcel of the same, 38-year-old suspect, which was full of counterfeit bills.
At the end of February, law enforcement authorities raided the criminals’ office in Ehingen, where they arrested a 31-year-old, a 41-year-old, and a 38-year-old suspect. According to the investigation, the 31-year-old sent out the online orders of the vendor shop. The previous investigations suggested that the group processed about several hundred orders. Investigators identified approximately 700 transactions. In the office in Ehingen, and in apartments in the district of Biberach, law enforcement authorities found more than five kilograms of marijuana, two kilograms of amphetamine, more than a hundred grams of cocaine, several hundred ecstasy tablets, and counterfeit money. They also secured stolen and fake IDs. Additionally, detectives seized tens of thousands of euros in cash.
The three men were presented to the presiding judge at the District Court. At the request of the public prosecutor in Ravensburg, the judge issued arrest warrants for the alleged criminals. Police suspect two women aged 24 and 31 for supporting the other members in their crimes.
With almost two weeks passed after the press release, law enforcement authorities released new information to the media about the proceedings of the investigation. After officials did a background check on the three major suspects, the 31-year-old, the 38-year-old, and the 41-year-old, they uncovered that only one of the defendants is a German national, one of the accused is a Turkish national, while the third one is a Serbian national. Despite the new information, police did not disclose any information on the 24 and 31-year-old women, who are still under investigation for allegedly helping the gang in their narcotics operation.
At the end of February during the raid of the office, investigators seized several electronic devices, including computers and laptops. After forensic analysts evaluated the data on the devices, they made serious progress with the investigation.
“The investigations so far have confirmed the suspicion of a vigorous trade in various types of drugs via the Darknet,” Police Chief Wolfgang Jürgens said in a statement. “It is clear that the suspects have sold drugs on various platforms at [the] Darknet. These are marketplaces [are places] where many thousands of customers and suppliers move around the world. One of these providers was the grouping around the people who were arrested.”
Police also discovered in the course of the investigation that most of the 700 transactions conducted by the criminal group were for narcotics in small quantities. The customers paid in different ways, including euro bank transfers, courier and postal services, and in bitcoin payments. The vendor group was active on the dark web from November 2016 until police raided their headquarters at the end of February. The public prosecutor’s office in Ravensburg called the police action “a considerable blow against the dealer scene”. According to law enforcement authorities, the suspects bought narcotics directly from suppliers residing in the Netherlands and Austria. In the police raid, investigators also secured Austrian documents.
“Most of them are stolen IDs from Austria”, Jürgens said regarding the seized documents. According to the police, the suspects wanted to use the identification papers to produce Austrian fake IDs.
The investigation showed that the criminal group either smuggled the narcotics by car through the borders or bought them from darknet vendors, who sent the packages via the national postal service.