BERLIN (Reuters) - Authorities shut down Germany’s largest online wholesaler of illegal drugs and arrested 11 people as part of an international investigation into a drugs ring they said spanned five European countries and sold narcotics worldwide.
Police said they had found out about the website, called Chemical Revolution, when they arrested a 26-year-old drug dealer in early 2018 who had large amounts of amphetamines, cannabis, heroin, cocaine and MDMA in his possession.
The man was storing and delivering the drugs for the website, which allowed users worldwide to buy banned substances using bitcoin, police said in a statement announcing the bust on Friday.
That led to another 26-year-old German, the alleged mastermind, who police said ran the website from his home base in Mallorca, Spain, coordinating procurement of the drugs, arranging their delivery and managing the financial proceeds.
Over the period of the investigation, the website had brought in revenues of around 2 million euros ($2.28 million), police estimated.
“Chemical Revolution is the biggest online shop that has ever served the German market,” said Sabine Vogt, head of the Federal Criminal Police organised crime division.
“It had a high level of organisation. It is an online shop just like a legal one, with staff working in different roles, doing different jobs. All that was missing was employment contracts.”
The alleged head of the ring was arrested at the end of May this year on a visit to Germany, police said. Other people arrested and charged included a 43-year-old Dutch man who procured drugs in the Netherlands and two Poles, aged 32 and 44, who acted as couriers.
The website’s server, located in France, was seized by French and German police officers. Police said they expected the alleged perpetrators to face prison terms of five to 15 years.
($1 = 0.8787 euros)
Reporting by Thomas Escritt, editing by Larry King