A major darknet vendor group selling MDMA and Ecstasy, calling themselves the “Italian Mafia Brussels,” was recently taken down in an international police operation.
Members of Italian Mafia Brussels Arrested
Six members of the group were nabbed in Belgium, Romania, and the U.S., although they have used other European countries as shipping hubs as well, such as France and Germany. The group had storefronts on a few darknet marketplaces, and used bitcoin to accept payments.
The six are currently in custody awaiting trial.
The group sent packages to customers in the U.S. disguised as being sent from legitimate companies. The authorities launched an investigation in February 2014 after receiving complaints from businesses that received returned packages from the U.S., which they did not send. These companies were chosen because they sold products similar to the group’s drugs. Payment was made in bitcoin.
FBI Efforts Unsuccessful
Such stories are piling up at an increased rate due to more cooperation from the international law enforcement community and larger budgets for law enforcement to conduct darkweb operations. Despite the growing number of convictions, and the seemingly endless campaign against darkweb marketplaces like the Silk Road, drug trafficking online is nonetheless growing.
The FBI and other law enforcers have been stepping up their game to catch similar criminals, but demand continues to grow.
Monica Barratt, a researcher from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Center at UNSW Australia, told Motherboard:
“Despite all of the disruptions from law enforcement efforts and takedown that have been successful, as well as the exit scams and all of this kind of thing, people are still using these sites to access drugs.”
Apparently, it’s becoming more popular for people to get their fix from the comfort of home than a dangerous back alley. Who could have seen this coming?
Global Drug Survey Shows Rising Demand for Darknet Services
Sometimes customers don’t even use Tor and bitcoin directly themselves to make their purchases, but order through their friends and colleagues who do and still cause the sales to grow.
It’s a global growth trend, although it is disproportionately centered in northern Europe, such as in Sweden.
With international law enforcement’s best efforts being dwarfed by rising demand, the market for bitcoin use on the darkweb is more secure than ever, and still growing.
Do you think the fall of Italian Mafia Brussels will affect darknet market activities?
Images courtesy of Pixabay.