Police smash Germany’s biggest online drug market

German authorities said Friday they took down the country's largest internet marketplace for narcotics and arrested 11 suspects from Germany, the Netherlands and Poland.

Police smash Germany's biggest online drug market
Seized cannabis on a table during a press conference at the Federal Criminal Police Office in Wiesbaden on Friday. Photo: DPA

Police and prosecutors said in a statement that they worked for more than a year to smash the so-called Chemical Revolution site, which sold amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, cannabis, ecstasy, LSD and other synthetic drugs.

Accepting Bitcoin payments, the site started operations in September 2017 and was allegedly run by a 26-year-old German man. He has been in custody since May.

The latest suspects arrested – eight Germans aged 24 to 35, two Poles aged 32 and 44 and a 43-year-old Dutchman – managed the acquisition, packaging, transport and distribution of the illicit wares.

Significant stash of drugs found

The police operation made its first swoop in early 2018 with the arrest of a German man in the eastern state of Brandenburg found with a significant stash of drugs at his home.

Between February and May 2019, German investigators working with colleagues in Poland, the Netherlands, France and Spain arrested another 10 suspects.

Ecstasy pills were also seized. Photo: DPA

The statement by authorities Friday did not provide information on the total amount of drugs sold on the site or its revenues before it was shut down.

During a press conference in Wiesbaden, investigators showed some of the drugs seized, including piles of cannabis and ecsta

In May, German authorities announced that they had dismantled the world's second largest darknet market.

The “Wall Street Market” site traded in narcotics as well as stolen data, fake documents and malicious software.

READ ALSO: German police shut down major 'darknet' illegal trading site

The encrypted platform had more than one million customer accounts, over 5,000 registered sellers and more than 60,000 sales listings.

Investigators believe the operators of Chemical Revolution also sold drugs on Wall Street Market.

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German police under fire for using tracing app to find witnesses

German police drew criticism Tuesday for using an app to trace contacts from bars and restaurants in the fight against the pandemic as part of an investigation.

A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant.
A barcode used for the Luca check-in app to trace possible Covid contacts at a Stuttgart restaurant. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marijan Murat

The case stemming from November last year began after the fatal fall of a man while leaving a restaurant in the western city of Mainz.

Police seeking possible witnesses made use of data from an app known as Luca, which was designed for patrons to register time spent in restaurants and taverns to track the possible spread of coronavirus.

Luca records the length of time spent at an establishment along with the patron’s full name, address and telephone number – all subject to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

However the police and local prosecutors in the case in Mainz successfully appealed to the municipal health authorities to gain access to information about 21 people who visited the restaurant at the same time as the man who died.

After an outcry, prosecutors apologised to the people involved and the local data protection authority has opened an inquiry into the affair.

“We condemn the abuse of Luca data collected to protect against infections,” said the company that developed the Luca app, culture4life, in a statement.

It added that it had received frequent requests for its data from the authorities which it routinely rejected.

Konstantin von Notz, a senior politician from the Greens, junior partners in the federal coalition, warned that abuse of the app could undermine public trust.

“We must not allow faith in digital apps, which are an important tool in the fight against Covid-19, to disappear,” he told Tuesday’s edition of Handelsblatt business daily.