Law enforcement agents have apprehended a 19-year old man from Australia’s Darwin City. The latest development has come hot in the heels of an earlier arrest that was made as part of a joint operation that seeks to sweep through dark web-facilitated criminal networks.
The joint law enforcement effort, called the Northern Joint Organized Crime Task Force (NT JOCTF), is made up of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF), Northern Territory Police (NTPOL), the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
The consortium of Australian law enforcement agencies launched an investigation into a series of drug importations that were scheduled to be sold via dark web, including a probe into the country’s postal system that was exploited by drug dealers to move narcotics and other controlled substances.
It is reported that the NT JOCTF seized a host of consignments of illicit drugs between April 22 and May 11, all of which were destined to three different identities. All the three cases involved the use of darknet platforms to buy and receive the packages that arrived in Darwin.
In addition, as with typical darknet drug sales, the purchasing of these drugs were paid for using cryptocurrency – a technique used by darknet-savvy criminals to avoid the hawk-eyed law enforcement agencies.
As far as the investigation was concerned, the total seized drugs included heroin, synthetic heroin, morphine, methamphetamine, cannabis, LSD, MDMA and a package of prescription medicines.
The probe into the drug operation led to the of the 19-year-old suspect in May 12 after he was apprehended while attempting to retrieve a package of 230 grams of MDMA that had been seized by police the previous day.
Following the arrest, investigators from the law enforcement consortium acted on a search warrant that was issued against the suspect’s residence in the Australian Northern Territory’s Wagaman suburb – where agents discovered an assortment of banned drugs and controlled pharmaceuticals, suspected criminal proceeds to the tune of $10,700, and other drug trafficking-related paraphernalia.
The suspect was denied bail and was scheduled to appear in court on May 14 to answer to a number of charges, including:
- Two counts of drug possession involving dangerous substances
- Two counts of drug distribution involving dangerous drugs
- Contravention of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1990 (NT) through the illicit possession of Schedule 1 drugs.
- Possession of trafficable quantities of Schedule 2 drugs according to Misuse of Drugs Act 1990 (NT).
- Possession of less than trafficable dangerous drugs in contravention of the Section 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1990 (NT).
- The unlawful use of identifying information, in contravention of Section 228C Criminal Code Act (NT).
- The receipt and possession of tainted property, which goes against Section 8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (1990 (NT).
Considering the above charges, the suspect faces a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.
Not the First Time
Australian authorities have confirmed that this is the second arrest that was made by the NT JOCTF in accordance to their goal of uncovering the country’s criminal network that has been exploiting the postal system and dark web markets to traffic banned drugs.
Looking back, in April 22 2020, a 23-year-old suspect from Darwin was arrested and charged on similar grounds – although it appears that the two individuals were operating independent of each other.
In response to the operation’s findings, the AFP highlighted the significance of the law enforcement efforts in fighting the dark web drug syndicate that has wreaked havoc within the Australian social ecosystem.
The recent developments come in the wake of the raging COVID-19 pandemic that has changed the manner in which criminals do business.