Former Cop in Belgium Sentenced for Buying Grenades on the Dark Web
The Charleroi Criminal Court in Belgium acquitted a former police officerwho had been charged with attempted murder on account of a plot to kill two people with grenades purchased from an American dark web vendor. According to the former police officer’s testimony, he had planned a double homicide but had eventually abandoned the plot. Although the court dropped the attempted assassination case against the former cop, the conviction for the attempted grenade importation and other crimes remain unchanged.
In late 2016, special forces raided the former police officer’s home in Marcinelle, Charleroi, Belgium. They had received a tip in September 2016 that the man had concocted a plan to kill the romantic partners of two women in his life. This information came from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States after the man had established contact with a dark web vendor who sold grenades on an undisclosed dark web marketplace. After the man had established a line of communication with the dark web vendor, he placed an order for two grenades and paid the vendor for the explosives in bitcoin.
Although the Federal Bureau of Investigation rarely reveals tactical information on dark web cases involving weapons, the Bureau’s involvement in almost all cases involving a grenade vendor on the dark web provides some insight on the legitimacy of the dark web vendor. The pattern the Federal Bureau of Investigation has established in similar cases indicates that while the dark web vendor account may have been a legitimate account, the entity behind that account was most likely an undercover federal agent instead of a dark web vendor who continued selling despite the failure to deliver even a single order over the course of two or more years. Of course, at one point, an explosives dealer could have been using the account until federal law enforcement caught him and kept news of the arrest from the public.
In September 2016, the former cop purchased two grenades from a dark web vendor account likely under control of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Based on evidence unveiled in similar cases, it is unlikely that a vendor ever shipped a grenade to the cop. However, not unlike people paying for hitmen on fake murder-for-hire sites on the dark web, people who attempt to purchase deadly weapons on the dark web are considered a serious threat. Especially if the individual expressed a desire to use the gun or explosive to kill or harm someone else. Law enforcement in Belgium also believed that the former police officer posed a significant threat even though the grenade deal had obviously failed. That is why Belgium special forces raided the man’s home during the early morning of September 26, 2016.
The former cop was arrested on two attempted murder charges, importing two explosive devices, carrying an illegal knife (a butterfly knife), using false license plates on his vehicle, and the unauthorized access of a government computer system. According to the authorities, the man had documented his crimes and his plans for future crimes in a journal later used in his own defense. His journal detailed his obsession with two women in his life and his hatred for the men involved with both women. One of the men was a fellow police officer. The court never disclosed the other identities. The journal, as the defense successfully argued at the most recent hearing, documented the thoughts of someone’s clear mental instabilities. His writing shifted from sad ramblings to increasingly vivid and descriptive plans of the murders of both men he had planned to kill.
Six days before his arrest, the former police officer had falsified information in an effort to trap his former coworker in the woods to kill him with a knife. After he had brought the man to the location he had originally designated as the location of the kill, he backtracked and decided to use the grenades he had ordered from the dark web. All this evidence was thoroughly detailed in the man’s notebook and corroborated by witnesses and electronic records. However, the mental state reflected in the writing indicated that the former law enforcement officer had serious mental health issues. His defense attorneys argued that his delusions caused these thoughts, but he had enough sense to not actually murder both men although he had fantasized about killing them both. The former cop initially admitted to both attempted murder charges but later withdrew his statement after learning that some of the evidence against him had been gathered illegally.
The court agreed that the attempted murders more closely resembled fantasies from a delusional mind. The fact that the defendant had backed out of one of the opportunities indeed indicated that the man knew to not actually murder the objects of his hatred. The court dropped both murder charges but stressed the severity of the crimes committed in furtherance of the murders he had fantasized about committing. The court sentenced him to three years in prison and five years of supervision following his release from custody.