Darkweb Vendor “GermanTeam” on Trial in Dortmund
On August 15, two brothers and an accomplice faced a judge in the Dortmund District Court for allegedly operating a dark web drug distribution operation. The appearance marked the first appearance in a trial expected to last through the month of November due to the severity and number of charges. According to the prosecution, the two brothers sold fentanyl, carfentanil, and other potent opioids on more than 700 occasions. The duo, alongside the co-conspirator, allegedly operated the darknet drug vendor account “GermanTeam” on numerous dark web markets.
The brothers, a 54-year-old identified as Adam and a 45-year-old known only as Christof Heinrich S., had been living in Hamm when the German Federal Police unit for Combating Serious Organized Crime and Terrorism (aka the GSG 9) raided their homes. The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Central Contact Point for Cybercrime in North Rhine-Westphalia (ZAC NRW) had identified the duo as fentanyl and carfentanil vendors on the dark web. But the GSG 9 rarely participates in the average dark web drug vendor bust. At the time, German authorities believed the brothers had posed a more significant threat than the average darknet vendor busted in Germany. Not only had they been selling potent opioids, the investigators found evidence that the men had been trafficking or in possession of both potassium cyanide and botulinum toxin (Botox).
In Germany and elsewhere, chemical weapons laws prevent unlicensed individuals from possessing or trafficking Botox. Although it has regular uses in modern medicine, scientists have experimented with the toxin’s potential as a biological weapon. And since laws in Germany define botulinum toxin as a biological weapon, German authorities treated the vendors as potential threats to other humans beyond the threat of the average dealer (hence the GSG 9 raid). After nearly six months in jail cells, the prosecution concluded that the men had not possessed botulinum toxin with malicious intent. And potassium cyanide, although incredibly toxic, is occasionally used in the production of fentanyl or fentanyl analogues.
And drug production was where the third defendant shined. According to the prosecution, 27-year-old Marc Oliver D. had initially just purchased drugs from the buyers. He lived relatively close to the brother’s homes and eventually established a relationship with them by providing advice on what he described as “dormant potential.” The prosecution accused the 27-year-old of writing a safety guide for consumption of the opioids sold by the brothers. The brothers eventually hired the man to help them with the more precise aspects of handling “dangerous chemicals.” On the GermanTeam vendor account, the 27-year-old allegedly wrote “if you want to kill [yourself] please don’t ask me which dosage will kill you.. please call a hotline for help but please I am a salesman not a psychologist.” The advice continued, “we are here to provide opioids for people who need them and don’t get them on other ways; We’re not here to harm anyone, we are here to help people.” The information on opioids continued for roughly one paragraph and warned those with low tolerances to stay far away from carfentanil.
The 27-year-old eventually offered his services as a chemist. He told the brothers that he could help increase their profits by refining raw chemicals and preparing them for consumption. Eventually, instead of importing their opioids from China, the brothers produced the opioids in a lab the younger co-conspirator had set up for “his studies.” The trio’s profits expanded, the prosecution explained in court. The brothers started selling opioids in liquid form, pill form, and powder form. Although the younger man played significantly less of a role in the operation than the two primary conspirators, the prosecution pointed out that the man had received a significant (but undisclosed) salary for his single year of work as an employee of the dark web vendors. They also pointed out that the brothers had hired him not long after their fentanyl led to a fatal overdose of a teenager in Norway.
Prosecutors expect the trial to run through November.