Hainaut Man Admits Buying Gun with Silencer on Dark Web ‘to Protect Family’
A Hainaut resident was apprehended for purchasing a firearm from the dark web using cryptocurrencies. The defendant has been charged at the Hasselt correctional court and is facing charges for illegal acquisition of a silencer gun.
The 30-year-old man was arrested after the police launched an investigation on the dark web after the gun attack in Brussels. Even though it has been established that the defendant had nothing to do with the attack, his search for weapons on the dark web coincided with the investigation leading to his arrest. On questioning, the father of a 2-year-old child admitted to having bought the gun to protect his family. His fear for the safety of his family was triggered by a burglary attempt on his parents and a series of home-jackings in his area.
After his confession in court, the prosecutor openly expressed doubts on the credibility of the man’s reasoning. “I wonder why the accused would need a silencer to shoot thieves. The fact that he bought a silencer almost discredits his concerns for the safety of his family,” said the prosecutor. The defendant had travelled to Paris where he bought bitcoins before returning to Hasselt to acquire the gun.
Soaring Rates of Gun Trade over the Dark Web
This is not an isolated case. Gun purchasing over the dark web using virtual currencies has become rampant in recent years. This confirms that weapon and gun trading in the dark web could be bigger than we imagine. After the 2016 attack in Munich that left over fifteen dead, the investigation led to a startling conclusion – the guns used in the attack were purchased from the dark web. With more terrorist attacks on European soil being linked to firearms and weapons obtained from the darknet, an investigation was launched to substantiate the role of the dark web in the illegal distribution of artillery. The research by Rand Europe in collaboration with the University of Manchester concluded that arms trade made up to 42% of the dark web transactions.
In 2018, government accountability officers spearheaded an undercover operation in the dark web to control and reduce the purchase of illegal guns. Up to 72 of their attempts to buy guns over the open web failed. The majority of the sellers declined to sell unless the clients showed their licenses to own firearms. However, the officers were able to buy two guns from the dark web. These purchases were against the laws governing the purchasing and acquisition of firearms, demonstrating how easy it is for one to buy or sell illegal weapons via the dark market.
The reason many criminals have resorted to using the dark web is due to the anonymity and secrecy it offers. US Attorney George Beck articulated the same sentiments saying criminals in the digital era take the secrecy offered by the internet as a mandate to violate the law. Weapons sold on the dark web are also more affordable than anywhere else. One can get the latest, best-performing artillery at a fraction of the price they would buy them for from legitimate gun shops. Giocamo Paoli, a participant in the Rand Report observed that the rate of gun trade is sufficiently high enough to raise concerns, especially to law enforcement officers.