Trier, Germany (dpa) – A trial began on Monday of eight suspected cybercriminals for hosting a darknet computer centre through which criminals from around the world carried out illegal transactions worth millions of euros.
The suspects are charged with enabling more than 249,000 crimes, mainly aiding and abetting drug transactions that they carried out on websites hosted on servers housed in a disused military bunker along the Moselle river.
The main player is said to be a 60-year-old Dutch national, who acquired the “cyberbunker” in the town of Traben-Trarbach at the end of 2013 and then gradually built it up. He says he did not know about the content hosted on the servers.
In total, four Dutch, three German and one Bulgarian suspects – ranging in age from 20 to 60 – have been charged.
The deals processed through the bunker’s servers involved everything from drug trafficking, child pornography and counterfeit money to stolen data, murder orders and cyberattacks, according to investigators.
The suspects are accused of aiding and abetting these criminal acts by providing the servers. The darknet is a restricted part of the internet.
The public prosecutor said this is the first trial against operators of what has been called a “bulletproof host,” saying that while many darknet operators have been tried, this is the first case against those who facilitate such deals by providing a host.