The Skaraborg District Court in Sweden recently sentenced a 30-year-old and a 35-year-old to eight years and six months in prison for running a vendor shop on the dark web. Now, both men appealed their convictions at the Gota Court of Appeal.

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With the appeal filed, there is a risk to the suspects. If the prosecutor files a cross-appeal, both of them could receive harsher sentences. The prosecutor asked for a maximum sentence for both men, 14 years in prison.

In the middle of November, the Skaraborg District Court charged four Swedish citizens for drug trafficking. Sofia Karlsson, the lead prosecutor in the case, after she read and explained the 6,000-page indictment, urged the court for a sentence of 14 years in prison for the suspects. Chief Inspector Lars Johansson similarly opted for the strictest punishment. He brought an older case for example, where he disagreed with the short sentencing.

“In a similar case, the Court of Appeals sentenced two drug dealers to six and ten years,” he told the media. “This [case] should have an even higher penalty given how extensive their trade was. Though of course it is the district court’s discretion.”

The news site P4 Skaraborg reported on the actual runoff of the bust. The primary suspect’s girlfriend (or the “cohabitator”) texted her boss about the narcotics operation. She said her boyfriend “operated a vast drug trafficking ring.” According to the source, this information slipped out accidentally. The girlfriend messaged her boss about her boyfriend and how he frightened her. She claimed that the primary suspect took ecstasy and “acted erratically”. The boss immediately contacted police, which led to the end of the narcotics operation. Law enforcement authorities arrived at the scene and discovered the base of the gang, which was the apartment of the couple.

“We assumed that this was about a packer, distributor. But this is a big seller. Operations also spread [worldwide],” Johansson said regarding the case.

Soon after the investigation started, officials learned that the owner of the apartment is the primary suspect, who was in charge of the dark web operation. He supplied the narcotics and handled online transactions. The girlfriend only opened bank accounts where the gang deposited money. Since the woman’s lesser role in the illegal activities, her lawyer requested the release of his client from the Mariestad prison – the lawyer succeeded in the action.

The trial began at the Skaraborg District Court on November 9. The charges against three of the four suspects were quite severe. The fourth member received lesser charges and appeared in connection with the group only rarely. It took one month for the court to hear all charges from the 6,000-page indictment. The judge scheduled the sentencing to December 23. At the end of the trial, the judge sentenced the two primary male suspects to eight years and six months in prison. For only “complicity in the narcotics crimes,” the judge sentenced the woman to one year in jail. The final member of the group avoided this sentencing—his court date remains unannounced.