German police have shut down the country’s largest online outlet for illegal drugs and made 11 arrests after months of investigations, the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) reported from Wiesbaden on Friday.
The 11, aged between 24 and 44, are being held in connection with selling drugs in large quantities as a syndicate.
They include a Dutch man, aged 43, who was responsible for purchases, two Poles, aged 32 and 44, who provided courier services, and eight Germans.
The main suspect was identified as a 26-year-old German national who launched the online shop as “Chemical Revolution’’ in September 2017.
He is seen as the mastermind of the group, the head of the BKA-organised crime unit, Sabine Vogt, said.
According to Vogt, the mastermind put the group’s turnover during the investigations at around 2 million euros (2.3 million dollars).
The German national, who is from the Munich area, is accused of having taken care of sales, coordinating purchases and administering the syndicate’s finances.
He was reported to have lived on the Spanish Mediterranean island of Mallorca and was detained while on a visit to Germany at the end of May.
The international online shop offered mainly synthetic drugs, such as ecstasy, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine and cannabis, with clients using Bitcoin to pay.
BKA said deliveries were made by mail, often using false letter boxes in large residential complexes.
There were discounts for large quantities and options for customers to comment on quality, as with many internet retailers.
Apart from selling drugs through their own Chemical Revolution outlet, the syndicate is also reported to have used the Darknet platform “Wall Street Market’’ that was shut down some weeks ago.
Investigations were triggered by the uncovering of large quantities of drugs last year at an address near Berlin.