This article was originally published on this website, and was translated for us by a DNM community member – this article brings to light more info about the Utopia marketplace bust and claims that these people are the same one who run Black Market Reloaded, is one of the arrested people might be Backopy (BMR admin)?
“For Sale: Assassin“
The trial against a group of Dutchmen who supposedly would have run Black Market Reloaded – an online marketplace for illegal goods – starts today. One of many, because nobody knows exactly how big the deep web is.
By Andreas Kouwenhoven
Monday September 22nd 2014
‘The best place to store all your problems is a grave.’ The advertisement on Black Market Reloaded leaves nothing to ambiguity. It is an offer of a contract killer. Those interested only need to email their name, place of residence and a clear picture of their target, and the assassin will go to work. Cost: $20,000. “Should you find yourself wondering why you should hire a contract killer online”, the ad states, “the answer is: simply because it is anonymous.”
And the hit man has a point. Illegal marketplaces like Black Market Reloaded actually are anonymous. You can only reach them through the so-called deep web – an untraceable part of the Internet. You can only pay with bitcoins, a virtual currency that is almost equally hard to trace. That’s what makes these marketplaces into a hidden underworld, where governments have no control whatsoever.
Hidden marketplace on the Internet
The trial against a group of Dutchmen who supposedly would have run Black Market Reloaded starts today. It concerns four Dutchmen and one German, which would have been behind another illegal marketplace – called Utopia – as well. Both sites have been shut down.
In these online stores you could buy anything; going from C4-explosives to cigars, from machine guns to anonymous debit cards, from fake passports to passwords of porn sites. And, above all: a lot of drugs; Speed, crystal meth, marijuana, cocaine – and dozens of other types.
Black Market Reloaded is one of many marketplaces on the hidden web. According to police, criminals are increasingly making use of it. “We see a new market emerging”, said Wilbert Paulissen, head of the national police. “Criminals have discovered the Internet as a relatively easy way to enlarge their market.”
No one knows exactly how large the illegal trade on the deep web is. However, it is known that Silk Road, the marketplace that was shut down by the FBI last year, handled more than one million transactions in only two years time. Value: $ 1.2 billion.
The part of the Internet where all this takes place is called the TOR-network. This is a global network to which millions of computers are connected. When a computer connects to this network, it first makes contact with a number of other computers before the connection is established. As a result, it is impossible to determine which specific computer is active on the network. Even for law enforcement.
The chief of the investigation bureau just admits: “If you want to trace a user of the Tor-network, you would have to break the encryption, which is extremely complicated. You will need the energy of an exploding star”, says Paulissen. In other words: you will never know.
“The only solution is to identify the sellers using different methods”, said the police chief. For example, by going undercover as a drug dealer. This is something the bureau of investigation ‘regularly’ does. Just last year, a machine gun has been bought from within the US. The seller was arrested after receiving a tip from the Amsterdam police. Also, marketplaces Black Market Reloaded and Utopia were rolled up following an undercover operation.
IT-nerd with a muscle disease
30-year-old Steven R. from Enschede has a muscle disease, for which he is in a wheelchair. He never goes outside. Steven is an IT-nerd. He spends all his time behind his computer. At the time he is approached to make a dog-walking site, he already hasn’t been outdoors for three years. Steven builds the site and the client is very much satisfied. Subsequently, the client asks him to build a site for the deep web, on which goods can be sold. Steven goes to work. Then, it becomes clear that the clients want to sell drugs and weapons. “I should have stopped then”, Steven supposedly would have said to the police. But Steven did not stop. For his clients, he builds the site Utopia – and starts dealing small amounts of drugs himself.
It turns out; a Dutch gang is behind the assignment. A leading role would be played by Rudolf J., a 46-year-old man from Woerden, who, according to the criminal file, disposed over a large criminal network. He works with Ralf P. from Enschede, who controls transportation. Technicians Jeroen T. and Steven R. are brought in to build the sites on which the illegal goods are sold. There is a close collaboration with German Bjorn R., who offers stolen bankcards, drugs and ammunition through Black Market Reloaded. On photo-site Flickr, Bjorn R. can be seen in a Portuguese golfing paradise, posing with expensive cars and boats. In May 2013 he writes on Facebook: „0.15 am still working on some projects right now… But this is what you need to do to thrive forward in your niche.”
At that time, Black Market Reloaded is building a reputation on the Internet as a ‘trusted’ site. The number of buyers increases steadily. “It became a kind of Bol.com for illegal goods”, said Peter Plasman, the attorney of Steven R. According to Plasman, his client received 40,000 euro’s worth of bitcoins for building the site. “This made it very hard for him to get out”, said Plasman, “because that would imply that he would have to pay back such a large sum.”
Last year, after receiving multiple messages about illegal activities on the hidden web, the police started an investigation. Undercover agents buy thousands of ecstasy pills, MDMA and dozens of grams of cocaine through Black Market Reloaded. They do this to build up credibility, says Paulissen. “Buying and paying, that’s how it works in that world. You’ll have to make a lot of deals for them to start trusting you. Only then will there be opportunities for a meeting.”
Ten grand for an assassination
The men of Black Market Reloaded bought it. Prime suspect Rudolf J. makes an appointment with the police infiltrators. Together, they drive to Bremen, where Rudolf introduces the agents to a man who deals illegally in bitcoins. He also tells them about his extensive drug network, and how he gets access to quantities of cocaine. Rudolf fully trusts the agents. He even asks them in September of 2013 to fulfill an assassination. A drug competitor from Thailand has to be eliminated. Rudolf tells the undercover agents that he is prepared to pay ten grand. They receive a down payment of 500 euro.
One month later, the investigators hear that Rudolf wants to traffic a batch of drugs to Bjorn R. in Germany. They decide to take him into custody at that time. On October 4, when he is on his way to Germany, Rudolf is arrested with 1.5 kilo’s of hashish, over 40 grams of cocaine, 3 kilo’s of amphetamines and about 1.5 kilo’s of ecstasy pills. A few months later, the bureau of investigation has gathered enough information to apprehend the other suspects. They found bitcoins worth over half a million euro’s with the gang.
Paulissen states that, besides the investigation of Black Market Reloaded, several other undercover operations are currently being undertaken with different Internet dealers. “They have our special interest, because we think that there should be no safe havens. People will of course always find ways to hide from the police. But that doesn’t mean we will stop fighting it.” The bureau of investigation wants to put forward a kind of “norm” stating that illegal trading on the Internet will “not be accepted”. Paulissen: “If we would do nothing against these crimes, it will become increasingly complicated to restore this norm.”
The police chief still has a long way to go. On the deep web, hundreds of dealers are still offering drugs and weapons. “That’s right”, says Paulissen. “But you don’t know how many of those dealers are actually undercover agents.”
Article Source: http://www.nrc.nl/next/van/2014/september/22/aangeboden-huurmoordenaar-1421020