Australian Federal Police, alongside NSW Police, raided a darknet vendor in Sydney’s inner west. The 43-year-old sold drugs for two years prior to his arrest on June 29. Officials said that a highly successful investigation into online drug sales led to the man’s arrest.
With the assistance of the Public Order and Riot Squad, officers arrested the man after raiding two properties at 8am on June 29, 2017. He caught nine prohibited drug supply charges and one dealing with proceeds of a crime charge. The press release stated that authorities denied bail for the suspect and set an initial court appearance for June 30.
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At one of the two properties raided by police, officers confiscated $12,000, cocaine, MDMA, and psilocybin mushrooms. They also found laptops with “hardware and software encryption.” The suspect, Nathan James Harnor, was briefly mentioned in court on June 30.
His lawyer announced that officials formally denied bail, but Harnor made no application for bail. His next court appearance will be on July 4 and at the same court.
Drug Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke explained that “the internet allows drug suppliers to engage with users from the comfort of their own homes or anywhere they are on their mobiles.” Cooke added, “this criminal enterprise presents a unique challenge for law enforcement, but, we too are evolving and adapting our tactics to infiltrate these spaces and detect drug transactions.”
AFP Detectives and the State Crime Command’s Drug Squad created “Strike Force Colette,” the task force that identified Harnor. Strike Force Colette exists to facilitate the removal of internet drug vendors. And ultimately to end internet drug sales in general. The taskforce is actively pursuing targets.
Cooke said, “Strike Force Colette is only a small part of the work we are doing in this space, and we will continue to collaborate with the AFP and other partners on all aspects of the availability of illicit drugs.” He also explained that the greatest challenge is the demand for illegal drugs. “We will continue to target trafficking, supply, and manufacture, but reducing demand must become a priority for the entire community,” the Detective Superintendent emphasized.
The AFP called the investigation “extensive” in their press release and Simon Walsh, National Manager of Specialist Operations said similar. “The effective working relationship between the AFP and NSW Police has led to a highly successful outcome and it is important Australian law enforcement agencies continue to work together to combat illicit drug supply,” he explained. This was not the first darknet task force in Australia that yielded results.
Last year, SAPOL ran an operation that netted at least four vendors. Additionally, the AFP, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Immigration Department, and local police departments teamed up for Operation Hyperion. They busted four individuals during Hyperion.
Authorities now ended the two year career of an elusive Australian darknet drug market vendor.