In January, Brandenburg officials announced that the FBI helped German law enforcement catch a darknet drug trafficker and three of his accomplices. The main defendant, a 31-year-old known as Mark W., sold drugs on the Silk Road marketplace before law enforcement shut the site down. The Brandenburg resident and accomplices sold more than 1.05 million euros between April 2012 and July 2013. The ring finally stood trial and received their sentences.
Mark W. and some of his so-called “employees” landed in jail in late 2013 for numerous drug crimes. German law enforcement conducted drug raids in Brandenburg, Berlin, and Bavaria as part of a larger operation into online drug distributors. Mark W.’s Silk Road venture, according to the FBI, stood out as a large operation as well. Mark W. would have become one of the largest international vendors located in the region. He was one of the top sellers, too. Mark ran a vendor profile under the name “Afterhour.”
After his first shipment of 5,000 ecstasy pills “the business grew and the quantities of drugs needed,” he told a judge during his sentencing. After law enforcement rounded up the whole group, they spent a significant amount of time waiting for their final judgements. The investigation still needed work as the Silk Road still existed at that point. Court documents revealed that Mark went from an ordinary individual to one of an extravagant lifestyle.
“He led a life of luxury, with nice cars, condominiums, and expensive trips,” one publication wrote “His life was full of luxury. His lifestyle included premium cars, a condo, taxis, travel, expensive clothes, and fancy meals. He employed his accomplices as employees with fixed salary.”
For his crimes, he faced 15 years in prison. But he started working with police. He “put himself at the disposal of the investigators,” one reporter described. He led officers to other darknet users—both buyers and sellers. He explained the workings of darknet marketplaces that emerged after the fall of the Silk Road. He explained the so-called “structure” of online drug trafficking from start to finish. He also explained how the other end worked; he explained the process required in order to buy from the marketplaces.
Investigators, and therefore the prosecution found his information of value. In late March, 2016, the Potsdam District Court sentenced him to prison. Because of his confession and his accomplices’ collaboration with the prosecution, Mark received a “mild sentence.” Despite being the Iargest drug trafficker in the region, the regional court Potsdam called the sentence “quite mild.” Mark must serve four years and ten months behind bars.
The co-defendants received similar sentences. Judge Jörg Tiemann sentenced Cornelius M. to three years and nine months behind bars; Christopher W. to two and a half years in prison; and Florian L., a minimally involved defendant, received one year and and eight months on probation. Despite the mild sentences the judge gave out, he made it clear that “the gang showed a high degree of criminal conspiracy, and that enormous amounts of drugs were distributed.”