Law enforcement agencies most likely used an intercepted seller’s account at Agora marketplace for undercover firearms trafficking.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) in collaboration with Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and United States Homeland Security Investigations has carried through a six-month joint operation monitoring illegal firearms traffic in the DarkWeb. The operation has seen four people in Australia charged with attempting to purchase illegal firearms and 17 more arrests made across Europe and North America as well as seizures of firearms, ballistic armour, illicit drugs and $80,000 in bitcoins, according to the AFP media release.

The law enforcement agency states:

“The investigation focused on the trade of illegal firearms via the ‘dark web’ by a US-based seller using an online alias to a worldwide client base, including Australian-based buyers.”

Last September, U.S. agents identified a 33-year-old man in Montana, who had been trading weapons on the DarkWeb using a certain alias account. That account was then used for an undercover operation. ACBPS has passed the relevant information regarding Australian-based users attempting to illegally purchase firearms to HSI, and those users became the targets of the international operation. The police conducted a controlled delivery of six parcels to addresses in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory which was followed by the execution of 15 search warrants in February and March, 2015. They seized four illegal firearms as well as drugs and their components. 

HSI acting special agent Kevin Kelly commented:

“Anyone who mistakenly thinks that they can get away with these types of crimes by hiding in the endless depths of the internet must know that HSI will seek them out and bring them to justice.”

His words were reiterated by ACBPS National Director Investigations, Assistant Commissioner Steve Lancaster:

“People using these sites should not be fooled by claims of online anonymity; each transaction builds up a global web of intelligence which international partners are using to target you.”

And that seems to be true not only for weapon dealers but for federal agents as well. Reddit user Gwern Branwen, known as a security researcher, managed to tie up the Australian story with the arrest of Justin Moreira in Hyannis (Massachusetts) this April. He believes Moreira using an alias jd497 purchased a Walther PPK/S .380 caliber pistol and a silencer at the Agora marketplace for $2,500 in bitcoins. Branwen attributed the seller’s account (obviously controlled by U.S. agents) to “weaponsguy” and the account was later banned by site administrators.

“People: stop trying to buy guns and poisons. Seriously. It's not going to end well”, warns Branwen.



Nadya Krasnushkina