Darkweb Drug Trafficker Helped Police Catch Three Co-Conspirators in Germany
In August 2018, a judge at the Regional Court in Münster sentenced a 47-year-old man from Enschede to 45 months in prison for drug crimes connected to a darkweb vendor named “Johnny Cash.” The drug dealer negotiated the relatively short sentence by providing the police with information on his co-conspirators and customers. Less than one month after the drug trafficker’s sentencing, three Dutch co-conspirators have appeared in the same courtroom to face charges in connection with crimes committing in furtherance of the “Johnny Cash” drug trafficking operation.
According to the Enschede man who was sentenced in August, his drug trafficking crimes were not committed alone nor were they part of his own drug scheme. He told the court that he had committed the crimes as part of a much larger operation that involved more co-conspirators than he could count. He said an individual or group of individuals in the Netherlands owned and operated the “Johnny Cash” accounts on darkweb marketplaces and that he had no direct access to the account. He did not believe he had access or communication with the main conspirator in the operation but he was certain that the primary conspirator was someone other than himself. And the man told the court that he could identify a number of the suspects.
The prosecutors weighed the value of the information the Dutch man claimed he could provide and eventually decided that cutting a deal with the man was a wise decision. At first, they did not fully understand the size of the case they had been investigating. During the investigation into the man they originally thought had been running the darkweb vendor account, they surveilled the man as he crossed the border from the Netherlands into Germany to drop packages off at post offices in various cities in North Rhine-Westphalia. The investigators traced many of his packages and arrested several of the biggest customers. However, they had not learned that the man was only a pawn in a larger drug trafficking operation.
With information provided by the 47-year-old, German authorities were able to arrest three more suspected drug traffickers who had been working for the owner of the “Johnny Cash” account on several darkweb marketplaces. The information provided by the first of the drug runners arrested in the investigation into “Johnny Cash” led to the placement of cameras in public locations along routes where the man said that his co-conspirators used to drive packages of drugs from the Netherlands into Germany. The police obtained footage from security cameras at gas stations and at parking lots that placed the co-conspirators in Germany on a routine basis. They also photographed the co-conspirators dropping off packages and had a rough estimate of how many packages the conspirators had dropped off at post offices in Ahaus and Nordhorn.
The man, when asked why he had been paid to travel across the border with packages filled with marijuana or amphetamine, the 47-year-old explained that packages shipped from post offices in the Netherlands “are more frequently checked by the post office.” Months after the arrest of the 47-year-old, German law enforcement began arresting the co-conspirators the 47-year-old had identified. They have been arresting suspects in waves, according to the prosecutor. Information from the 47-year-old first paid off earlier this year after German police arrested three alleged co-conspirators from Enschede. One of the suspected drug traffickers is a 41-year-old and the other two are both in their late 20s.
One of the three, a 27-year-old named Liam H., had contact with the owners of the darkweb vendor account, law enforcement said. Liam H. also made the most money and travelled from the Netherlands to Germany far more frequently than the two other suspected co-conspirators. Prosecutors claimed German investigators had collected evidence that proved Liam H. had travelled—with drugs—to German post offices on 14 occasions. They accused him of dropping as many as 114 packages off at a post office in a single trip. When someone had approached Liam about making the trips to Germany, he said that they had not told him what the packages contained. “I did not know exactly what was in the bags – but of course I knew it was not right,” he said in court.
The second 27-year-old, a gardener named Luuk H., had travelled to Germany to drop packages at post offices in Ahaus and Nordhorn on at least six occasions, the prosecution said. The man entered the business though his friend Liam, the court heard. Liam, however, made much more money than Luuk. Prosecutors said Luuk had earned between 90 and 125 euros per trip.
And Jarno R., 41, had the least involvement of all three suspected co-conspirators. One of his acquaintances had offered him the chance to drive packages to Germany for 10 euros per package and he agreed until he learned that some of the packages had contained amphetamines. He took only five trips to Germany before quitting.
The hearings will run through October. Liam H. could spend more time in prison than the 47-year-old who had given his information to the police. The other two are facing a minimum of two years in prison.