A Finnish court has handed life sentences to two men accused of procuring hitman services on the dark web. The defendants sealed a dark web deal that would culminate in the killing of a 44-year-old man believed to be one of the suspect’s father.
The Pirkanmaa District court found 20-year-old Aatu Viljami Halonen guilty of soliciting the victim’s murder while his accomplice, 19-year-old Mika Markus Aleksi Hytönen is said to have committed the act.
According to media reports, the latest court ruling marks the first-ever trial involving a dark-web-enabled murder deal, and the fourth time – in two decades – that the judicial system is convicting persons on charges of contract murder.
In early 2020, law enforcement agents in Tampere discovered the victim’s body at his residence, after neighbors contacted the police about an assault that had occurred between the convict and the deceased.
The police went ahead to apprehend the suspect, and discovered evidence that linked the man’s assault and death to his son. According to a court confession, the son had contracted a killer to eliminate his father, even though he later claimed to have only authorized his assault for financial reasons.
The court learnt that the defendant had at one time confided in his spouse about a longtime fantasy to commit murder.
Soliciting Hitman Services via Dark Web
Sometime in 2019, Hytönen posted an advertisement on a dark web platform – among the numerous underground platforms that are only accessible via Tor – to promote his services as a hired killer, who would be paid in cryptocurrency to fulfill a contract mission.
Hytönen and Halonen would later link up after the accused would browse the hidden web in search of a person that would assault his father.
According to the prosecution, while Halonen’s motive may have appeared to be financial, the convict’s decision was pegged on grievances stemming from the victim’s treatment of the defendant as a child.
The court learnt that the murder was ordered at a cost of 10,000 euros that would be sourced from the inheritance left by the convict’s father. Nonetheless, the accused is reported to have used his defense lawyer to challenge the court by delinking himself from his father’s murder, claiming to have been charged wrongfully.
The court decision to sentence the two accused persons to life in prison was made nine months after the courts found them guilty. Both persons were compelled to attend psychological exams to ascertain their mental state, after which the court found the defendants fit to stand trial.
Inside the Dark Web’s Murder Marketplaces
There’s an unsettling reality: the dark web has become too sophisticated for international law enforcement agencies to effectively crack down on cybercrime.
On one hand, the internet ecosystem has created a robust legitimate enterprise where people can buy goods and services. In addition, chilling details refer to rather sinister activities that include weapons trading and opioid trafficking.
The subject of murder-for-hire services on the darknet has been synonymous with scamming cases. It turns out that the occurrence of a market for hitman services on the dark web has not necessarily translated to availability of actual assassins on the dark web.
According to an analysis conducted by dark renowned dark web expert Eileen Ormsby, the story of Yura, owner of the most profitable murder-for-hire darknet marketplace in history, projects a rather unexpected truth – most hitman-for-hire adverts on the dark web are fake.
Similarly, an article by writer Brian Merchant provided a critical look into the world of “murder marketplaces”. In the analysis, the writer examines a number of scammers that roam these sites, which contrasts to the fact that potential darknet clients are genuinely looking for hitman services.