Largest Dark Web Site in Finland Closed Down by Customs on Drug Smuggling Allegations
A joint operation involving the Finnish customs and the Finnish Police has led to the closure of the Sipulikanava website, a Finnish-only dark web forum. The Sipulikanava website was shut down due to charges of online drug smuggling. It was the biggest Finnish dark web marketplace with huge amounts of illegal drugs selling from 2014 to 2017.
According to an official press release on Thursday, it was revealed that the Finnish Customs in collaboration with the police shut down the Sipulikanava on November 1 of last year. This marked the biggest ever shut down in the country.
Hannu Sinkkonen, Finnish Customs enforcement chief, after the closure stated that: “Of course the drug trade will always find new routes, but the overall impact has been significant,” adding that “This is the largest operation of this scale and very different from previous ones.” Many dark web marketplaces which openly deal in illegal drugs have been shut down in the country but this is the first time law enforcement has boot an entire server offline.
The accused are two Finnish nationals, a 45-year-old IT wizard who also is the Sipulikanava website’s administrator, and another. This case also marks the first time, the administrator of a dark web marketplace is being accused of dealing drugs online in Finland.
Reports suggest the investigation is in its latter stages and the case is expected to be submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office of Itä-Uusimaa for a review of the charges. The presumed offenses which are currently under investigation are linked to 37 previous cases of aggravated narcotics offenses. These offenses, according to an earlier investigation, happened from 2016 to 2017, when a section of the Sipulikanava dark web marketplace dealt in illegal drugs.
The dark web marketplace appeared under the radar of customs officials back in 2017 when it learned that an individual behind the moniker ‘Ekstaasikauppa’ had purchased drugs on the dark web marketplace. This particular individual had been previously investigated by customs officials for buying drugs from a group of people also hiding behind the moniker ‘Douppingkauppa.’ This same vendor was busted in 2016. Apparently, the ‘Ekstaasikauppa’ account holder had contacted the dealers through a drug advert on the Sipulikanava marketplace and both parties agreed and arranged for drugs to be delivered to him.
Custom Officials alongside the National Bureau of Investigation and the Special Investigations Unit of the Helsinki Police Department, between October 31 and November 1 last year searched the residence of the suspected individuals in Vantaa. The search yielded results as concrete technical evidence, linked to the Sipulikanava dark web marketplace and its administration was obtained together with a small number of illegal drugs.
The web server of the prime suspect was afterward seized from his office. Reports suggest that the server was a backup one for that of Sipulikanava’s. His boss, however, denied any knowledge of any wrongdoing or criminal activity by his employee and was cleared of any criminal offense.
Data about buyers and sellers was obtained in connection with closing down the servers and has since been utilized.
The Sipulikanava dark web marketplace was created on March 13, 2014, and worked its way into becoming one of the biggest Finnish dark web marketplaces, dealing in illegal drugs and other illegal activities. The dark web marketplace is basically a discussion forum and in addition to that, it offers clients, legitimate content. However, the person in charge of the website had already created a section, dedicated to only narcotics dealing. He also made sure buyers and sellers of illegal drugs would easily connect to the marketplace. Buyers were able to place an advert with information of the type of drugs they were searching and then add their ID for instant messaging. The purpose of this instant messaging app was for buyers and dealers to agree on the type and quantity of drugs to be sold, as well as delivery.
Sipulikanava is known to have encouraged the purchasing and selling of huge amounts of illegal drugs across Finland. Kilograms of marijuana and amphetamine, over thousands of Rivotril pills which contain the medication Clonazepam, a pharmaceutical used to treat seizures and panic disorder, were all made possible to obtain, thanks to the dark web marketplace.