Dutch criminals prolifically peddle drugs, firearms on Dark Web

Dutch criminals are responsible for a large share of the trade of illegal products, especially drugs and firearms, on the so-called Dark Web. One one of the illegal online market places, Dutch retailers even accounted for 10 percent of the orders.

The Public Prosecutor announced this during an international consultation on cybercrime in Noordwijk on Monday and Tuesday. During this meeting, the police and judicial services from the European Union, United States, Norway and Australia discussed the joint tackling of illegal trade on the internet.

The so-called Dark Web consists of hidden services on the Tor network which allows completely anonymous movement on the internet, according to the Prosecutor. It is not accessible through conventional search engines. Well known examples of illegal market places on the Dark Web are Silk Road 1 and 2, Black Market Reloaded, Agora and Evolution. These anonymous market places mostly offer illegal goods such as hard drugs, child pornography, weapons, organs and even murderers-for-hire.

Five Dutch people were found and arrested last year for offering illegal goods on one of these anonymous market places. They were found by undercover officers placing orders and then tracing the suspects. Some 900 bitcoins - worth about half a million euros - were found and seized with their suspects. The court gave them prison sentences of between 1 and 6 years.

In another investigation the police arrested what they believe is one of the largest online drug traffickers - a 55 year old man from IJmuiden. He was arrested in December 2014 after the transfer of 10 kilos of amphetamine and a large quantity of ecstasy pills. When searching his house, the police found a plastic bag containing more than 400 thousand euros, hashish, cannabis, ecstasy pills and MDMA. They also found 29 sealed and addressed parcels, all of them containing drugs.

The main goal for this joint international approach, called the Illegal Trading on Online Marketplaces (ITOM) project, is to make illegal trade on the internet more difficult and more anonymous. Last year a coordinated action involving 17 countries led to the arrest of 17 people and closure of 410 Tor Servers.