back to article Hansa down, this is cool: How Dutch cops snatched the wheel of dark web charabanc

The takedown of the Hansa dark web marketplace, done live on national TV by Dutch police, was possible because officers had been running the site themselves – and on Thursday they detailed how they did it. In 2016, security shop Bitdefender tipped off the Dutch plod that Hansa, one of the most popular dark web markets, was …

But did they get the criminals too?

See, I see one small problem with all this: Dutch law forbids the local police from staging criminal activities. If a lawyer can argue that a criminal committed a crime because he got lured into it by the local police then such cases would be thrown out of the courtroom.

So I can't help wonder to what extend all of that would apply here. Of course I'm aware that most information they collected probably involves foreigners and it remains to be seen that those will actually be tried under Dutch law (seems more likely that law enforcement of the local country gets involved). Still.. I can't help wonder what the aftermath of all this will be.

Considering what you usually get to read about these guys in the local papers it wouldn't surprise me at all if this action made the headlines for now, and 3 months later we'll read on page 10 in the paper how they never managed to arrest and/or convict any actual criminals. So basically sending out a clear message that "Don't worry guys, even if the police operates the stuff then you're still safe!".

Only time will tell I suppose.

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Re: But did they get the criminals too?

Doesn't matter - they got the money.

You don't need any convictions if you confiscated the money up front

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Anonymous Coward

@ShelLuser - Re: But did they get the criminals too?

The Dutch don't have to convict anyone. All they have to do is to hand them over to US justice system which will take care of it quite nicely.

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Re: But did they get the criminals too?

@ShelLuser:"Dutch law forbids the local police from staging criminal activities"

From the article: "The police seized over 2,500 Bitcoins and details of over 26,000 transactions."

Details of the transactions will be handed over to the FBI and any other law enforcement organisation who wants them. No problem if you get another country's law enforcement to charge people on their end...

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Re: But did they get the criminals too?

"See, I see one small problem with all this: Dutch law forbids the local police from staging criminal activities. "

I thought it worked much like entrapment in most countries?

So if an undercover cop says to you "would you like to buy some coke?" that *may* count as entrapment. But if the undercover cop says "I have some cocaine" and you say "jolly good, I'd like to buy some thanks", then it's not entrapment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But did they get the criminals too?

"say "jolly good, I'd like to buy some thanks", then it's not entrapment."

It's also not illegal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But did they get the criminals too?

and it remains to be seen that those will actually be tried under Dutch law

Now, that is an idea - to insist on your own extradition :)

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Re: But did they get the criminals too?

ShelLuser: See, I see one small problem with all this: Dutch law forbids the local police from staging criminal activities.

For *local* police you are correct. This was done, however by our *national* police department. Who are allowed to perform sting operations if OK-ed by a parliament committee. Same goes for cooperation with a foreign law-enforcement entity ( FBI...* at least* in this case ).

So yeah.. This operation was vetted, and legal. So any suckers trying to pull the " but this was entrapment!" card will have a very hard time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But did they get the criminals too?

> Now, that is an idea - to insist on your own extradition :)

Let me introduce you to Catalan president Mr Puigdemont, whose European arrest warrant was withdrawn much to Puigdemont's and his defence team's displeasure, after Spain had painted themselves into a corner.

So yes, it does happen. :-)

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Fake news

Odd that the FBI seem to be announcing this from a kaspersky sponseored conference, when we know from them that kaspersky is nothing but a front for Russian secret service.

Does this mean the news is fake, or the fake site was fake, or the Netherlands are fake?

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Re: Fake news

C'mon, like there's really a country that's almost entirely below sea level where people make shoes out of wood. How gullible do you have to be to believe that?

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Re: Fake news

Rumour has it, we even ride bikes, grow tulips, eat cheese and smoke funny herbs all the time.

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Re: Fake news

http://www.clogs.co.uk/

I never knew Mytholmroyd was below sea level!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fake news

Mytholmroyd might not be below sea level but it's been underwater a few times.

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Re: Fake news

Since my corporeal body is hosted in the netherlands, I can tell you it is virtually fake.

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Re: Fake news

virtually fake

My head hurts trying to work out the logic consequences of that phrase.

(Or maybe it's the wine bottles that mysteriously emptied themselves last night that's to blame)

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Re: Fake news

The wooden shoes make sense, at least. Making clothing out of stuff that floats seems like a sensible move. Something really floaty for the upper torso might be advisable, so that any floating is done the right way up.

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Pirate

Re: Fake news

That's why we traditionally have those puffy pants and shirts. Good emergency flotation devices..

Our women have gone one step further and even sport headwear with sails, just in case..

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Re: Fake news

The really funny thing is watching these ficticious dutchies doing this all at the same time. Have you ever tried to grow a tulip whilst cycling?

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Re: grow a tulip whilst cycling

@Alan Brown: It can be done.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fake news

> we know from them that kaspersky is nothing but a front for Russian secret service.

In the same way we know the US won the Vietnam war, brought peace to the Middle East, and liberated Europe after entering the war out of the goodness of their hearts without anyone declaring war on them or attacking them first? Not to mention their renowned generosity hosting Jewish refugees, as Kapitän Schröder attested.

Yeah, we "know" a lot indeed.

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Re: Fake news

'Gullible': To believe one self to be a seabird.

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LDS
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Re: Fake news

it's odder that FBI could actually collaborate with EU countries without the need of being able to seize server data with only a US court order...

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Anonymous Coward

One for the good guys

It took a lot of hard work and intelligence to bring down this ring of crims but it's a good day for society. Now lets hope that more online crime rings are smashed and the perps sent to prison for a long time. There is no shortage of digital crims just a shortage of convictions and prisons to place them in. Building new prisons will provide increased employment however so prosecution of these crims is a win-win situation.

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Anonymous Coward

Agent Provocateur

If there isn't enough Crime to justify your job, you can always encourage and facilitate some more.

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Re: Agent Provocateur

I like their pants. Lacy!

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Re: Agent Provocateur

@AC:"If there isn't enough Crime to justify your job, you can always encourage and facilitate some more."

From the look of things, plenty of crimes were committed on the Hansa site before cops got involved

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Re: Agent Provocateur

From the look of things, plenty of crimes were committed on the Hansa site before cops got involved

Except we don't know that now - the cops had control of the site's database.

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Windows

Re: Agent Provocateur

"Except we don't know that now - the cops had control of the site's database."

I was thinking that - did they run checksums with external witnesses every now and again to be able to demonstrate continuity of evidence &c?

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Anonymous Coward

Diddiums

So they got the escrow from the site and a few sellers. So what?

Buyers tend to transfer to the sites and buy immediately. Only an idiot keeps any amount in a dark web market, they are inherently unstable and likely to be taken down. Sellers similarly and transfer out regularly.

2500 BTX ($25Million at $10k per bitcoin) sounds about right for a week's worth of escrow for one market.

Haven't seen a site that doesn't use PGP for all messaging now, so that should keep the buyers addresses relatively private. Only an idiot would communicate without it.

Nice trick on getting the seller to repost pictures, I wonder if that will work again.

But for buyers of weekend fun supplementation online is still, BY FAR, the safest, easiest way of purchasing. Since the Demand is there, the supply of darknet sites will not stop. All we see if a shift to more secure coins like XMR and a weening out of the sites run poorly / hosted in 1st world locations.

So in all, Police spent a LOT of time, resources to take down what two admins and a few dealers.

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Re: Diddiums

"So in all, Police spent a LOT of time, resources to take down what two admins and a few dealers."

The drug problem is primarily about profit. As are the other illegal activities.

Drugs are an easy one because they're extremely cheap to produce, whilst the prohibitions make them extremely expensive to purchase. Treat addiction as a health issue and you'd make more headway.

Trading in stolen goods is much harder, but also tends to be bulky. Some of the other stuff like dealing in various forms of human suffering is going to be extremely hard to nail down.

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Re: Diddiums

Some of the other stuff like dealing in various forms of human suffering is going to be extremely hard to nail down.

It's odd, that the policing arms of various governments run around trying to remove those who deal in human suffering as private enterprise, while other arms dish it out in some parts of the world, or ignore it in others because politics,,,

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Diddiums

> Buyers tend to transfer to the sites and buy immediately. Only an idiot keeps any amount in a dark web market

Sir, you do seem to have a, shall we say questionable, amount of knowledge of the intricacies of online trading in certain industries.

Thanks for sharing though! It makes for interesting reading and there are probably lessons that can be applied in more mainstream activities, e.g., as concerns data protection.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Diddiums

Drugs are an easy one because they're extremely cheap to produce, whilst the prohibitions make them extremely expensive to purchase. Treat addiction as a health issue and you'd make more headway.

The vast profits are the exact reason why they're kept illegal..

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Interesting read.

Future iterations of online souks will learn from these lessons and take more care - until they slip up.

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Coat

Hansa's down

That explains why they haven't delivered my vegetable biryani and Peshwari naan

>>>>>>>>>>The one with the takeaway menu in the pocket

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Credit where its due...

These cops have worked hard to get a good result against the sort of people who like to trade in drugs, images of sexually abused kids, and illegal weaponry. Top job, well done Plod, thank you!

Now commentards, Do feel free to sit back in your comfy office job, pontificate, and make smart arsed comments about how plod did it all wrong, or won't be able to make convictions stick.... sooo much easier than taking a bit of a pay cut, rolling your sleeves up, and helping them do it even better

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Re: Credit where its due...

Daily Mail reader I presume? Nice attempt to associate recreational drug use with emotive headlines without the use of evidence. Just think, if governments got their head together and taxed drugs they way they do booze, 90% of societies drug related problems would be solved overnight, but I suspect that doesn't fit with your view of the world.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Credit where its due...

> sooo much easier than taking a bit of a pay cut, rolling your sleeves up, and helping them do it even better

Go on, tell us your story Mr Mongo. I'm listening.

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Re: Credit where its due...

Eh?

How much of a "drug problem" is booze? and that is taxed to feck.

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Good work

Ignoring the question of what substances people should be allowed to put in their own body, this is pretty impressive. A well-organised operation with cooperation across multiple jurisdictions that seems to have gone as planned.

One question, though: Who keeps the bitcoins?

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Caught Red Hansad.

This thread got way too serious, way too quickly. Please can we return to a series of bad puns and amusing wordplay.

And this is that all too salient reminder of the old internet Meme. "On the internet, nobody knows you're a Dog" ... or in this case, a member of a domestic police force just waiting for you to do something illegal whilst handing them all your identifying details.

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Re: Caught Red Hansad.

You called? I pray I am not too early:

Apparently Musical Youth escaped this sting - they just passed the Dutchies on the left-hand side

"What's the difference between a tube and a daft Dutch person?"

"One's a hollow cylinder and the other's a silly Hollander. "

Thank you! Is that your chicken, Madam?

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Anonymous Coward

"Does this mean..."

" [...] the Netherlands are fake?"

No, the Netherlands are not fake.

It's a city in Belgium.

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https://www.stallman.org/archives/2018-jan-apr.html#7_March_2018_(Portugal%27s_decriminalization)

" Portugal's decriminalization of using illegal drugs, together with plenty of treatment and other support for users that need it, has almost eliminated the main secondary problems that drug use causes in other countries.

Don't assume that all use of illegal drugs is a problem. There are plenty of people that sometimes use marijuana and it isn't a problem at all. Marijuana should be legal, not merely decriminalized."

I agree with this solution to the drug problem, alcohol prohibition didn't work and when it was ended crime went down. The same thing will happen with drugs. Maybe not outright legalizing at least decriminalizing.

I think marijuana should be legalized.

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Meanwhile in The Netherlands...

Four out of five crimes are not reported, because people know nothing will happen with it and police routinely dis-encourages people from reporting.

(So politics boasts crime rates are going down)

Four out of five reported crimes never get investigated.

Of the investigated crimes, a significant fraction never gets prosecuted.

The ones that get prosecuted and lead to a conviction, lead to very low sentences.

Think twelve years for murder, or community service for assault and battery leading to permanent disability. If your crime was relatively light, you are allowed to await trial in freedom. If convicted to prison, just don't show up. There are actually more people who are convicted to a jail sentence out on the street (around 15.000), than there are people in jail (around 10.000). The Netherlands is a paradise for criminals.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meanwhile in The Netherlands...

Yes, exactly. Dutch cops can be real wankers.

A few years ago someone had got their house broken into. Laptop stolen. The laptop reported its location to the owner. The owner went to the local police with this information. Nothing was done. It didn't matter the guy living at that location was known to have more stolen goods. It didn't matter the investigation would have been quite simple. Nope, too much trouble.

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Thumb Up

Now THAT's real police work! Congrats on the arrests, and I also note that no legislatively forced backdoors were needed -- just good old legwork and competence in the IT sphere.

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The King is dead, long live the King...

It all just seems a bit pointless, with the exception of live, dope on the table, exciting for network TV and advertisers of opioid's, lawyers and guns etc. In other news, next gen, gets harder to something or other and people make decisions based on self-actualisation, repeat, consume and add to GDP stats. #ireallyhaventgotaclue

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