Three Dutch suspects arrested for "dark web" drug trade

File photo showing a police arrestPicture: Wikimedia Commons/Lionel Allorge

Three Dutch people were arrested on Tuesday in a large joint investigation with the United States into drug trade via illegal online market places on the so-called Dark Web, the police announced on Friday. 

The main suspect is a 28-year-old man from Broek op Langedijk. He is suspected of trading and exporting "substantial quantities" of narcotics and money laundering.  A 29-year-old man from Nieuwe Niedorp and a 26-year-old man from Alkmaar were also arrested on suspicion of involvement in this trafficking. All three are still in custody and will be arraigned on Friday.

The police also raided 11 locations in Alkmaar, Broek op Langedijk and Heerhugowaard, among others. During these searchers officers found and seized over 140 thousand euros in cash, about 45 kilograms of narcotics including MDMA and cocaine, expensive watches, various vehicles, computers, USB sticks, houses and a warehouse.

Officers also found a large number of packages containing narcotics at several different locations. These packages were ready to be shipped to the United states.

The investigation into the prime suspect started after illegal online market place Silk Road 1 was taken down and its administrator was arrested by the American authorities. The 28-year-old's screen name was identified in online chats discussing how he would send drugs from the Netherlands to the United States hidden in DVD cases, among other things. The screen name was eventually traced to the suspect, leading to his arrest.

According to the police, the suspects were paid in Bitcoins, among other things. To convert this electronic currency to euros the prime suspect maintained contacts with a so-called bitcoin broker arrested by the FIOD earlier this year.

In January the authorities arrested 10 suspects in a bitcoin and dark web investigation. It is not clear whether the bitcoin broker connected to the suspect from Broek op Langedijk was one of those arrested in January.