German Authorities Shut Down Telegram Based Drug Trading Circle

11/05/2020Cybercrime, Europe, Germany, Law Enforcement, news

The Frankfurt am Main Public Prosecutor General’s Office – Central Office for Combating Internet Crime (ZIT) – and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) as well as other law enforcement agencies took over and seized a total of nine chat groups in the “Telegram” messenger service as part of a concerted action in six German states yesterday, Thursday.

The nationwide investigations against administrators of such groups as well as local merchants have been underway since the beginning of June 2020 and have so far led to the identification of 28 suspects against whom search warrants were executed yesterday in 30 properties. The accused are suspected of having illegally traded narcotics, forged documents, illegally obtained data and other incriminated goods via the messenger service “Telegram”.

The General Prosecutor’s Office in Bamberg – Central Office Cybercrime Bavaria (ZCB) – and the public prosecutor’s offices in Bremen, Chemnitz, Essen, Hagen, Constance and Mannheim, in cooperation with local police departments, were also involved in the concerted action by conducting criminal proceedings under their own responsibility. In the Republic of Austria, too, the public prosecutor’s office in Feldkirch and the Vorarlberg police conducted searches at the same time.

Within the scope of yesterday’s measures, communication in a total of nine chat groups of the messenger “Telegram” with approx. 8,000 members could be taken over and secured, among others “Silk Road”, “Marktplatz//Schwarzmarkt”, “GermanRefundCrew” or “Cracked Accounts Shop”.

During the searches of the suspects’ apartments, more than four kilograms of narcotics, eight weapons and €8,000 cash as well as numerous other pieces of evidence, in particular smartphones and various data carriers, were also seized.

The part of the investigation complex led by ZIT and the BKA is directed against 13 men aged between 18 and 54 years. Among other things, they are suspected of having provided an opportunity for the unauthorized acquisition or distribution of narcotics (§ 29 para. 1 no. 10 BtMG) or the unauthorized trade with narcotics, in some cases in not small quantities (§§ 29 para. 1, 29a para. 1 BtMG). An arrest warrant obtained by ZIT from the district court of Offenbach am Main was executed against a 25-year-old man from the district of Offenbach. In addition, another 19-year-old man from the district of Offenbach was provisionally arrested and will be brought before the judge of the district court of Offenbach am Main today.