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German cops arrest student suspected of running infamous dark-web souk

A 22-year-old student German federal police believe to be the administrator of one of the largest German-speaking, dark-web forums has been arrested. 

The man, whose identity has not been released, has been charged with operating a criminal trading platform and faces up to a decade behind bars if convicted. He was collared in late October after federal cops and officers from the Central Office for Cybercrime Bavaria (ZCB) searched two homes and seized computers, mobile phones, and other evidence. 

According to German law enforcement, the student, from Lower Bavaria, served as the operator of the third version of Deutschland im Deep Web since November 2018. 

The first version’s Tor site appeared on the criminal underground scene in 2013. Three years later, an 18-year-old bought a pistol and 300 rounds of ammunition via the illicit marketplace before killing at least nine people in a shooting rampage at a Munich mall.

German police shut down Deutschland im Deep Web in 2017 following that murder spree, and also arrested the operator at the time, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2018. Since then, however, two new versions of the marketplace have appeared, selling drugs, weapons, and other illegal goods, under the motto “No control, everything allowed,” we’re told.

Police shut down the most recent version of the dark-web souk in March 2022. At the time, it had around 16,000 registered users and 72 active traders, according to law enforcement.

The website now displays a banner that reads: “The platform and the criminal content have been seized by the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Bavarian Central Office for the Prosecution of Cybercrime.”

The Deutschland im Deep Web seizure follows another dark web shutdown earlier this year that was part of a joint effort by German federal police and US law enforcement agencies. 

In April, the two countries slayed Hydra, the longest-running known dark-web marketplace trafficking in illegal drugs and money-laundering services.

First, German cops seized Hydra servers and cryptocurrency wallets containing $25 million in Bitcoins, thus shutting down the online souk. 

Additionally, the US Justice Department announced criminal charges against one of the alleged Hydra operators and system administrators, 30-year-old Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov, of Russia, and the US Treasury Department sanctioned the dark-web monstrosity. ®