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Trial Begins for Bitcoin-Enabled Drug Trafficking Site Operators

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German authorities managed to score a big win recently as they took down the country’s largest Bitcoin-enabled narcotics trading site on the Dark Web. Now, they hope to bring the people responsible for the site to justice once and for all.

Chemical Revolution’s Expansive Operation

Reports have confirmed that the alleged dealers involved with Chemical Revolution — a sizeable German drug trade service — will stand trial today. The hearing will take place at the congress hall in Giessen, central Germany, as the authorities need enough space to accommodate many suspects.

Although law enforcement apprehended 11 suspects, only seven will be standing trial today. Chemical Revolution was a sprawling criminal organization that ran across several countries. The service facilitated drug trades, using the Dark Web’s anonymity and other anonymization tools. The company eventually got on law enforcement’s radar in early 2018, and police eventually infiltrated the company’s web of administrative and supply chain structures.

The investigation included information gathering and sting operations, with police eventually arresting 11 members of the organization in June 2019. According to reports, the alleged top official at the site is an unnamed 26-year-old German national, who was arrested at his residence in Mallorca, Spain.

Law enforcement found anonymization and encryption tools at the site’s operation. They also found support for Bitcoin purchases. The defendants were eventually charged with drug trafficking, with the catalog including banned substances like cannabis, cocaine, and heroin.

State prosecutors in Frankfurt also alleged that the defendants had facilitated the trafficking of over 130 kilograms of amphetamines, 42 kilograms of cannabis, 17 kilograms worth of crystalline ecstasy, 6 kilograms of cocaine, and more via their site between September 2017 and February 2019. Through its operation, Chemical Revolution allegedly made over 1 million euros ($1.2 million), making it Germanys largest online narcotics trade platform.

Improved Tracking is Stifling Crypto-Based Crime

Chemical Revolution also reportedly had ties to The Wall Street Market – another top Dark Web trafficking platform that was shut down by authorities in May 2019.

The service was shut down after a joint operation between the German Federal Criminal Police and Europol. A press release from Europol confirmed that they had arrested three suspects and seized 550,000 euros (about $615,000 at the time) in cash, as well as Bitcoin and Monero tokens worth an additional six figures, computers, vehicles, and hard drives.

At the time of its shutdown, The Wall Street Market was the second-largest trafficking marketplace on the Dark Web. Europol’s press release noted that the service had over 1.5 million registered users, with 5,400 selling items such as fake documents, stolen data, drugs, and malicious software.

Chemical Revolution is the latest in law enforcement’s crackdown on drug crimes and illegal crypto activities. With increased tracking capabilities and the higher susceptibility for Bitcoin to tracing, many law enforcement agencies have had it much easier to fight crime and break up illicit organizations. There’s hardly any doubt that this trend will continue in the near future, as governments worldwide are getting encouraged by the results thus far.

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