Sipulikanava website shut down on drug offence charges
08 Jun 2018, 02:49 ( 08 Jun, 2018) | updated: 08 Jun 2018, 02:53 ( 08 Jun, 2018)
The website of Sipulikanava has been closed down on charge of online drug smuggling.
Finnish Customs, in cooperation with the police on November 1, 2017 closed down the Sipulikanava website, which was active on the Tor network, said an official press release on Thursday.
The investigation is in the final stages and the matter will be submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office of Itä-Uusimaa for consideration of charges.
Sipulikanava was a Finnish website through which very large quantities of narcotics were sold, purchased and distributed around Finland during 2014-2017, said Customs.
The suspects are two Finnish individuals who are suspected of committing an aggravate narcotics offence as well as aiding and abetting in an aggravated narcotics offence.
The suspected offences now under investigation involve 37 previous cases of aggravated narcotics offences that, based on the preliminary investigation, were carried out during 2016-2017 when narcotics were sold and purchased via the market section of Sipulikanava.
Customs became interested in the Sipulikanava operation and its administration in 2017, when it became apparent that a person using the pseudonym Ekstaasikauppa, who had previously been investigated, had obtained via Sipulikanava some of the narcotics sold; this after Customs had apprehended the persons behind the pseudonym Douppingkauppa in 2016.
The person who used the name Ekstaasikauppa had contacted the narcotics dealer via a narcotics sales advertisement on Sipulikanava and had via an instant messaging service arranged for the delivery of the narcotics.
On 31 October-1 November 2017 in Vantaa, Customs together with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Special Investigations Unit of the Helsinki Police Department, searched the home of the persons suspected of being responsible for Sipulikanava.
A large amount of technical evidence in connection with Sipulikanava and its maintenance was reproduced during the search of the home, and a small quantity of narcotics was seized.
Furthermore, the personal web server of the main suspect was seized from his workplace. The server was believed to be a backup server for Sipulikanava. The employer of the main suspect is not suspected of any criminal offence. The employer has not been aware of any activity by the suspect involving Sipulikanava.
Sipulikanava was founded on 13 March 2014, and over the years it became one of the most significant Finnish websites engaged in narcotics trade in the Tor network.
The structure of the website was a discussion forum with a lot of legitimate content. However, the person maintaining Sipulikanava had already in the beginning created a so-called market section, where narcotics were sold actively and openly.
The way the website worked was that the narcotics dealer placed a sales advertisement on the website with a picture and description of the narcotic on sale, the quantity and price as well as the seller’s instant messaging ID. Furthermore, the buyer was able to place a want ad with information on which narcotics they wished to buy and provided their instant messaging ID. The instant messaging application was used in agreeing on the quantities of narcotics to be sold, and on deliveries. During 2016, the person maintaining the website edited the market place so that the narcotics advertisements were divided into different city or area based sections. This made it much easier for buyers and sellers of narcotics to meet.
The person maintaining Sipulikanava, a 45 year old IT professional, is suspected of an aggravated narcotics offence, namely distributing narcotics in the market section of Sipulikanava during 2014 - 2017.
The case in question is the first one in Finland’s criminal history where an administrator of a website on the Tor network is suspected of distributing narcotics through the site.