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Crime The Internet

Utopia, Silk Road's Latest Replacement, Only Lasted Nine Days 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the bet-you-feel-bad-about-the-grandiose-name dept.
Daniel_Stuckey points us to this story by Max Cherney: "This morning, anyone hoping to browse Utopia, the up-and-coming (but now defunct) competitor to Silk Road 2.0, was greeted with an unwelcome but at this point familiar message: 'This hidden service has been seized by the Dutch National Police.' The online black market was shut down a mere nine days after its much-anticipated launch. Despite rumors of a hack, Dutch cops have issued a statement saying they arrested five men in connection with running Utopia and seized computers, hard drives, USB sticks, and 'about 900 Bitcoins' — roughly $600,000. Utopia's servers were apparently housed in Germany, where another man was arrested on suspicion of weapons and drug trafficking. The Dutch launched operation CONDOR in early 2013 to uncover illegal marketplaces on the Tor network, of the likes of Silk Road 2.0 and Utopia. The investigation into Utopia pulled out all the stops: undercover agents and 'buy-busts,' not just of drugs, but also a contract assassination — much to the surprise of the Dutch public prosecutor."
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Utopia, Silk Road's Latest Replacement, Only Lasted Nine Days

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  • by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:28PM (#46233601)

    An EU arrest warrant would be a small thing to arrange. The question of jurisdiction for things like this would likely be a minor problem of little value to the suspects.

  • Translation (Score:5, Informative)

    by sandertje (1748324) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @09:34PM (#46234601)

    For those not able to understand Dutch, I'll translate the message by the public prosecution.

    "In an investigation to criminal market places on the internet, the police arrest 5 men - among which a convicted criminal - on Tuesday. On anonymous, deeply hidden websites drugs and weapons were offered. With permission of the public prosecution undercover agents bought drugs and fire arms on multiple occasions during the past few months. They also received an advance payment for a contract murder.

    The police arrested two men aged 30 and 31 in Enschede [city near the German border], who are suspect of drug and weapon trade on illegal online market places. It concerns Black Market Reloaded and Utopia, Tor websites which were most likely involved in the illicit market places.

    Black Market Reloaded went offline at the end of last year, after a surge of visitors. This sudden surge arose when the FBI took down Silk Road - one of Black Market Reloaded's largest competitors - and arrested its owner in October.

    The Dutch suspects maintained an own illicit market place under the name Utopia. The servers on which this website ran have been found in the German cities of Bochum and Düsseldorf, and were seized yesterday. After taking down the website, the police left a note that the hidden service had been seized by police.

    Upon request of the Public Prosecution [NL], the Bundeskriminalamt [German] arrested a 21 year old man on Tuesday who is suspected of trade in drugs and weaponry. The man presumably offered not only hard drugs [Dutch law makes a distinction between semi-legal 'soft' drugs (marijuana and mushrooms) and entirely illegal 'hard' drugs], but also offered munition and stolen credit cards for sale.

    A 46-year old fellow suspect was already arrested in October 2013 when he was en route to Germany with 1.5 kilograms of marijuana, over 40 grams of cocaine, three kilograms of amphetamine and 1.5 kilograms of XTC pills. The man has been arrested again in his cell today, now for involvement in the illicit online trade and evoking murder.

    The police investigation under codename Commodore was started in early 2013 on account of signals about drug trade on internet via anonymous, deeply hidden websites. There would be large scale trade in drugs and other illegal goods and services. Drugs could be ordered through these websites, and were subsequently send and delivered world-wide by post.

    The Tor network allows one to surf anonymously on the internet without leaving a trail. Illegal market places within the Tor environment make it possible to acquire illegal goods, services and information. Through the use of Tor it is furthermore difficult to determine the physical location of the web servers.

    The illegal and accessible character of these websites with digital payments in bitcoin makes them societally unwanted and a severe disruption of the rule of law. The Commodore investigation gives a clear signal to those who wish to conduct crimes within digital anonymity. The investigation and prosecution of these crimes have high priority for the police and Public Prosection.

    The police made contact with the suspects through undercover agents. The agents bought drugs and fire arms with ease. It concerns several thousands of XTC pills, raw blocks of MDMA and tens of grams of cocaine. The undercover agents were offered to buy several kilograms of cocaine.

    To the dismay of the police and Public Prosecution, the undercover agents were also requested to "bring someone to the other world". The target would be extorted and subsequently killed. The contact led to a physical meeting, where an advance payment was made.

    During the search of the residences of the suspects, computers, storage devices such as hard disks and usb drives, and 900 bitcoin worth approximately 400,000 to 600,000 euros, have been seized. The in the Netherlands arrested suspects are being brought to court on Friday. The Public Prosecution has requested the extradition of the German suspect."

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