Drugs on the dark web: sent as cereal

Grown in Austria and sold in the dark web. At least 100 kg of marijuana is distributed in this way. Some of the drugs were also sent as cereal. Now, Vienna drug investigators have arrested five suspects.

"George1580" represents the quality and reliability of Austrian marijuana shipments over the dark web. Until December 8: Vienna drug investigators, with the support of the Federal Criminal Police Office and Einsatzkommando Cobra, arrested five suspects who were running stores of the same name on the dark web. They grew marijuana in five locations in eastern Austria and sent it by mail.

Five plantations provide a steady supply

"George1580" is a living legend on the dark web, reports Nino Kirnbauer of the Vienna State Criminal Police. The cannabis is of high quality, with an average purity of 20 percent. Only their own cannabis products are sold, which come from five plantations in Vienna and the southern region of Lower Austria. Each plantation has between 200 and 400 plants. The company is logistically set up so that the supply never runs out. Harvesting takes place every eight to nine weeks, and the plugs are ready for the next planting.

The main suspect is a 34-year-old man from Vienna-Floresdorf. He is supposed to be the strategist, responsible for the logistics in terms of cultivation and packaging, offering the drug and organizing packaging and distribution in several markets on the dark web. He was assisted by a 39-year-old and a 34-year-old Austrian citizen, both gardeners. A 33-year-old and a 48-year-old Austrian woman handled the finances - such as paying bills or depositing profits into multiple accounts abroad - and rented rooms for the plantation.

No fingerprints or DNA on the envelope

Over the years, shipping has become increasingly elaborate: Cannabis, for example, is packaged in unscented envelopes and sent by mail with crunchy cereal and appropriate labels. They put these items into ever-changing mailboxes. The team was equally expert in packaging: "We never found fingerprints or DNA traces on the envelopes." Kirnbauer says "George1580" also makes sure that items sent from one mailbox look different from another. Sometimes as many as 40 packages are stored in a single mailbox.

Whatever the reason, customers who did not receive the ordered goods would come forward to hold the seller accountable, Kirnbauer said. "The perpetrators had the greatest interest in positive reviews without exception." Through their assessment, investigators were also able to prove that the dealers had made at least about 9,000 transactions since 2016, in which at least more than 100 kilograms of cannabis changed hands, with a street value of more than €1 million. However, investigators believe that the number of unidentified cases is much higher.

In any case, the organization has been active since 2011. According to police estimates, the perpetrators deliver between half a kilo and a kilo of marijuana per week.

Merchandise is paid for only in bitcoin

For regular customers, they sometimes store the goods in a secure hideout, receive payment, and then provide the coordinates to the customer via encrypted mail. Speaking of payment: this is done entirely through encrypted goods - Bitcoin. They often stand in front of a bitcoin machine for hours and have people pay in euros for bitcoins. The proceeds are deposited into foreign accounts.

Investigators have been targeting the organization for some time. on Dec. 8, investigators waited for a delivery trip, during which the suspects also took the 5-year-old son of one of the members as cover. The raid took place at the main suspect's residential address in Floridov, as well as other locations in Vienna and Lower Austria, including the Modlin district.

In the process, they seized several kilograms of marijuana, two cultivated plants, a higher five-figure sum in cash, a new 4 Series BMW that had been paid for, three legally owned pistols, a Kalashnikov rifle and other prohibited weapons such as brass knuckles, knives and human knives.

Welfare recipients and expensive cars

The three men were detained and two women were charged with being at large. Without the illegal business, members of the group may not be able to afford higher priced apartments and cars. The main suspect was working a marginal job in the restaurant industry, and the other two suspects were receiving social welfare payments.

Investigators said, "We found the sales contract for the car and physically found the income tax statement next to it. If the purchase contract for the car was about 20 times the income tax settlement, something could be considered irregular." So far, the suspects have barely spoken. They should wait to see what evidence is presented to them.

Daniel Lichtenegger, head of the Federal Criminal Police Office for Narcotics Crimes, said selling drugs through the dark web and sending them through the mail is usually a big problem for domestic investigators. In the central post office in Vienna-Liesing alone, some 3,000 shipments of drugs are detected each year. Lichtenegger warned that the drug trade is increasingly turning to communication services such as Telegram and Snapchat.

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