An unnamed 24-year-old man has been arrested in Spain for dealing in arms from the dark web. His arrest came as a result of a combined operation by police forces across Europe in on-going efforts to shut down Dark Web weapons business.
According to reports, the unnamed man used the now-defunct dark web marketplace, AlphaBay to send dozens of guns across Europe and some even to the United States.
The young man from Pamplona had no qualifications or any trade experience and only managed to access the dark web marketplaces by his own skills. He would purchase manufactured weapons, which he would then sell for a big profit.
He sold his items to buyers in the UK, Spain, Germany, Asia and the United States, accepting payments only in bitcoins, a popular online virtual currency.
A huge arsenal was discovered when the police raided his house. Officers seized about 22 firearms, numerous hand-made weapons, a kilo of gunpowder and over €1,500 in cash.
Some of the weapons were en route to the UK, where they were seized, and also to Germany, where a man shot himself the same day he had the guns.
He had a flat in Barcelona of which he traveled from his hometown to do business and also had a constructed gun-manufacturing workshop located in a garage belonging to one of his neighbors.
Further reports revealed that, the weapons were obtained from the base in Slovakia; the same place that supplied the weapons used in the Paris attacks in 2015, an attack orchestrated by an Islamic State militant group involving shootings and bomb blasts, which left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded, with more than 100 in a critical condition.
It is also believed that the young Spanish arms dealer lived an enjoyable and enviable life including a yacht which he kept in a marina in Barcelona.
This raid comes about as one of the largest international blows at the international level with regards to illicit arms and drugs businesses on the Dark Web. It is also part of the operation RUGER, an operation which has yielded so many positive results.
The investigation began in March involving Germany, UK, United States and Europol and has been accurate ever since.
Since his arrest, Interpol has arrested more than five people, of which some has a history of murder.
This latest bust came after Spanish police authorities revealed that over 20% of the firearms seized in the past years have been used in wars.
Early this year in January, Spanish police which involved counter-terror police from Madrid, Bilbao, Valencia, and Gerona with the help of Interpol seized over 10,000 of these weapons including anti-aircraft machine guns, assault rifles, and grenades, from sites in Bizcay, Girona, and Cantabria. The weapons had an estimated value of about £9 million.
Europol, after the bust, stated that the firearms were sold in France, Belgium and also Spain.
It stated that some of the weapons were deactivated, but did not comply with established standards and criminals obtained the firearms mainly through auctions and other legal means before reactivating it.
Spanish police afterward tweeted a picture of the haul, saying: “These are the 12,000 weapons, some capable of bringing down aircraft, intercepted from organized crime. Their price: €10 million (£8.8 million) on the black market.”
They continued by saying the weapons would have had an easy entry into the black market, and into the hands of terrorists and many organized crime groups.
Europol also stated that firearms traffickers exploit legal loopholes and legislative differences between EU countries in attempts to divert guns from legal suppliers.
Illegal arms dealing via the dark web have of late become rampant with over dozens of arrests recorded this year. With a few months still left in the year, the number is expected to rise.
A new study by the Rand Corporation Europe and Manchester University found that over 52 different vendors have weapons, ammunition, and explosives for sale on the dark web.
The study added that sales on the dark web can be very lucrative, with criminals often looking to access weapons any way they can and this makes it easier because of the special software required to access this dark part of the internet.
The researchers then discovered that illegal firearms and its relations were pulling over 136 sales each month, generating over $80,000.