herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Busted internet drugs kingpin has €1m in bank

Busted internet drugs kingpin has €1m in bank
Busted internet drugs kingpin has €1m in bank

A 33-year-old Dublin man who used sophisticated encryption techniques to traffic drugs on the internet has well over €1m stashed in foreign bank accounts.

The man also has significant amounts of the digital currency bitcoin on computers he controls.

Gardai are confident the computer expert who had been living in a "low key" property in the Harold's Cross area of the capital's southside, is the biggest drug dealer in Ireland operating on the encrypted layer of the internet known as the darknet.

Sources say that he has been organising the trafficking of drugs using the bitcoin electronic currency as well as stashing hundreds of thousands of euro in bank accounts in Switzerland, Belize, Poland and a number of other countries.

Secret

He has no previous criminal convictions and was completely unknown to officers here until he became the focus of a top secret investigation after gardai received information from foreign police forces.

The suspect is college educated and has an "absolute mastery of computer systems".

An encrypted computer seized as part of the investigation was connected to the Silk Road website, which has been used as an online marketplace for drugs.

It has emerged that at least two detectives in the Garda National Drugs Unit spent up to three months tracking the man's activities on the darknet, and spent hours trawling through it to build up evidence .

A darknet is a private internet network where connections are made only between trusted peers. It is often used with the intention of avoiding surveillance from government agencies.

The trawl culminated in the arrest of the trafficker and another man in a premises at a retail park on Dublin's South Circular Road on Wednesday, where €180,000 worth of LSD and ecstasy tablets were seized.

Other drugs and documentation were later seized at the trafficker's Harold's Cross property.

The duo remained in custody at Kevin Street and Kilmainham Garda Stations last night.

Computers

Sources stressed the seizure of computer equipment has more significance than the actual drugs which were recovered by gardai, and that information on this equipment will be of "great assistance" to many international police forces.

Bitcoin - a digital currency used to pay for transactions over the internet - worth over €1.5m were found on computers seized during the raid.

kfoy@herald.ie

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