Dutch Silk Road Narcotics Vendor Faces Prison

Dutch Silk Road Narcotics Vendor Faces Prison

The Public Prosecutor (OM) recommended a sentence of fifteen months (five months suspended) in prison for a 37-year-old from Groningen, the Netherlands for selling drugs on the Silk Road Marketplace.

PHOTO ARCHIVE DVHN

According to the OM, the suspect sold hard narcotics on the infamous Silk Road Marketplace. The 37-year-old used his own room at a residential building on the Oude Boteringestraat in Groningen as his base of operations.

After several anonymous reports to the police, law enforcement authorities raided the house. Officials found different kinds of hard drugs, too much for the defendant’s own use, the prosecution said. According to court documents, “other evidence” were found that indicated narcotics trade. Authorities only provided information on the fact that the 37-year-old accepted payments in bitcoins. That could mean that law enforcement seized electronic devices from the accused, and after a forensic analysis, they found the transactions and the completed orders on the man’s vendor account on the Silk Road Marketplace. However, this is only a presumption.

The Dutch OM considers the case as a “modern sale” of narcotics. According to the prosecution, there is a big difference between street deals and dark web trade since the vendor was not “disturbed by junkies”.

The defendant denied the charges against him. Although, he admitted that he was active on the dark web.

“I was fascinated by what was happening there. I jogged a little,” the 37-year-old said.

Mathieu van Linde, from defense, said that there are suspicions, however, there is no concrete evidence to support these. The verdict in the case is expected in two weeks.

A new law called “Act Cybercrime III” would allow Dutch authorities to find loopholes in the software cybercriminals use and hack with. The motion is currently standing before the parliament.

Martijn Egberts, a digital crime expert, said that cybercrime is growing and law enforcement authorities have a hard time tracking down criminals with the “traditional methods”. Advanced encryption technologies help cybercriminals hide from authorities more efficiently. That’s the reason why the House is discussing the new law proposal, which would give police more power to catch the suspects.

“It [the sector] is attacked continuously. Russian and Ukrainian banks are captured in a series of cyber attacks costing $300 million. I want to avoid similar scenarios in the Netherlands,” the expert said.

The motion already received heavy criticism from opposing parties, including privacy advocates and political parties, such as D66, SP, and Groenlinks. According to them, law enforcement is not authorized to hack software and apps. The opposition argues on the “internet becoming a less safe place” if police abuse the loopholes behind the manufacturers back, instead of warning the companies.

In the new law, supporters of Act Cybercrime III say that police can hack the software suspects use, and reach their devices as well, including computers and smartphones. For example, the prosecution would be able to install a spyware on the devices, which tracks the daily activity on the suspects’ keyboards.

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