Earlier this week, customs authorities searched a man’s home from Oberbergischen Kreis, Germany, and found extensive amounts of firearms and ammunition. Investigators said that the suspect ordered the weapons from the dark web.
On May 30, investigators from the Customs Office in Frankfurt am Main issued a warrant on the home of a 38-year-old man. During the house search, law enforcement authorities seized Three long-range weapons, more precisely two shotguns and a machine gun, along with a handgun, approximately 1,000 rounds of ammunition, prohibited pyrotechnics, and black powder.
“Due to the nature and the extent of the confiscated items, this case is particularly striking,” Hans-Jürgen Schmidt, spokesman for the Customs Office in Frankfurt am Main, said in a statement. According to information provided by the police, law enforcement authorities conducted an extensive investigation within the dark web. On the dark side of the internet, according to the customs officer, the 38-year-old had placed orders to purchase ammunition. Schmidt added that the suspect is not authorized to hold any kind of weapons or ammunition.
The investigators closely examined the weapons they had confiscated from the defendant. They had discovered that the machine gun they had seized was a British “Sten MK5” from World War II. Investigators stated that the original firearm could be a weapon used as a prop, however, since the man is an industrial mechanic, law enforcement authorities think that the defendant could use his expertise to transform it to a sharp firearm. Further investigations are conducted to determine whether the machine gun was capable of shooting.
According to police information, the prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt am Main started the investigations against the 38-year-old in April, when law enforcement authorities discovered his illicit activities on the dark web.
“We have been very active in this area for about two years,” Schmidt said. Last year, law enforcement authorities arrested a weapon vendor from Marburg, who allegedly supplied the 18-year-old David Sonboly with a Glock gun on the dark web. Sonboly committed the Münich shooting on July 22, 2016, at the Olympia shopping mall resulting in the death of 10 people, including himself.
The prosecution accused the 32-year-old Philipp K. in March of negligent homicide in nine cases, negligent bodily harm in five cases as well as violations of the weapons law. In August, last year, law enforcement authorities detained the alleged weapon seller. He has been under investigation since then. However, soon after the suspect was arrested, he confessed. According to the defendant’s statement, he sold various weapons to customers, including semi-automatic shotguns, which could be considered as weapons of war. Police information disclosed that they had used undercover techniques to arrest the 32-year-old. One of the investigators posed as a buyer on a darknet marketplace and purchased a Glock 17 handgun from the 32-year-old for $9,021. Shortly after the transaction was made, investigators detained the defendant in Marburg. Partly because of the shooting incident, the firearm vendor showed full cooperation with the police. He provided them all the details investigators needed, including access to all of his computers, login information to various services, and decryption keys.
When the media asked Schmidt on the particular places where the weapons were in the defendant’s home, he did not provide a clear answer. However, the customs officer said that the firearms were not found in one specific place in the man’s house, but they were “distributed in the suspect’s house”. Schmidt added that, for example, a shotgun was found in the 38-year-old’s bedroom, which he thinks the defendant placed there in case someone comes in the house.
According to Schmidt, after his arrest, the suspect stated that he “was not a member of the German Parliament” and wanted to defend himself. During the police interrogation, the defendant emphasized that he needed the firearms and ammunition for the sole purpose to protect himself from intruders.
Since there was no warrant issued for the arrest of the man, the 38-year-old was released after the police interrogation. However, the customs office stated that the investigations will continue against the man.