Gardai probe multi million Euro bitcoin drug deals conducted on darknet

Dubliner allegedly took orders for drugs on encrypted, secretive part of internet

A darknet site seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States

A darknet site seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States

 

An Irish man arrested for allegedly supplying drugs around the globe had established a secretive sales hub on the encrypted part of the internet known as the darknet and was accepting payment in the virtual currency bitcoin.

Drugs were being delivered to customers around the world via the postal service after orders were made on the darknet, where electronic bitcoin payments for the substances were also conducted.

Garda sources said those selling and buying the drugs apparently believed they were beyond the reach of the law because their transactions were on an encrypted darknet site.

However, members of the Garda National Drug Unit and Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation have recently become skilled at breaching the darknet. And as part of a wider international operation they put the chief suspect’s drug dealing business under online surveillance.

On Wednesday and yesterday they acted on the intelligence gathered by carrying out raids and making arrests as colleagues in other jurisdictions did the same.

‘Significant’ arrests

Det Chief Supt

“They are not just significant, we allege, in an Irish aspect of this darknet; they’re significant on a global basis. We believe and we will allege that the drugs being sold from the premises we searched were being sold on a global basis.”

He added that large sums of money, some already taken control of by Cab, were involved and that criminals who believed they were untouchable on the darknet now needed to think again.

“We’re talking about millions rather than thousands,” he said of the value of the sales by the Irish operation. “I am satisfied we will trace millions and we’ll get to the bottom of international money laundering”.

In the first investigation of its kind in the Republic, senior officers believe the arrest of the chief suspect and the seizure of drugs, computers and financial documents is the first step in the complex investigation into criminality where bitcoin was the main currency.

The prime target, a Dubliner in his 30s, of Harold’s Cross, was being detained along with his accomplice in Kilmainham and Kevin Street Garda stations last night. They were arrested when a large team of gardaí moved in on a rented premises in a serviced office block on the South Circular Road at 1.40pm on Wednesday.

LSD and ecstasy

Gardaí are hopeful the information on them may reveal the full extent of the Irish suspects’ role in the global darknet drug- dealing ring.

Gardaí also searched the home of the chief suspect. Between the two sites, documents were found relating to bitcoin accounts and offshore accounts in Poland, the UK, Belize and Switzerland. A smaller quantity of drugs was also found at his home.