Germany: Alleged Darknet Druglords on Trial for Bitcoin Narcotics Trade

The alleged dealers involved in “Chemical Revolution” — Germany’s largest darknet narcotics marketplace — will stand trial today.

The high number of initial defendants in the case has meant the trial is being held in a congress hall in Giessen, central Germany, large enough to accommodate the proceedings.

While seven defendants are standing trial today, a total of 11 persons were arrested back in June 2019 in connection with the case. 

They were charged with selling vast quantities of drugs — including MDMA, amphetamine, heroin, cocaine and cannabis — to consumers in exchange for Bitcoin (BTC). 

State prosecutors in Frankfurt allege that the 11 defendants trafficked over 130 kilos of amphetamines, 42 kilos of cannabis, 17 kilos of crystalline ecstasy, 6 kilos of cocaine, and kilos of heroin via “Chemical Revolution” between September 2017 and February 2019.

Their profits are alleged to have exceeded 1 million euro ($1.2 million), in what is thought to have been the country’s largest online narcotics trade.

A complex, illicit web of operations

The months-long investigation — which culminated in the site closure, drugs seizures and arrests of last June — began in early 2018. 

German police infiltrated the complex web of supply chain and administrative structures behind the site by means of undercover investigators and fake drug purchases, as well as insider informers. 

The alleged principal offender in the “Chemical Revolution” case is reported to be a 26-year-old German citizen, resident in Mallorca.  

Defendants were involved in the site’s operations across “different points within the supply chain,” prosecutors say — from platform administrators to couriers to sales staff.

A German federal police study of online drug trafficking, published in September 2019, indicated a 27.5% increase in related drug offenses in 2018 as compared to the previous year, according to German news agency Deutsche Welle.

Anonymization, encryption software and support for Bitcoin purchases all reportedly facilitated the site’s online operations.

Earlier coverage of the case indicated that the Chemical Revolution dealers also conducted sales via Wall Street Market — the world’s second largest dark web market, also shut down by German police in spring of last year.

Total darknet market sales in crypto hit a new high in 2019, surpassing $600 million for the first time, according to a study published this January by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.

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