Posting Selfie Gets Darkweb Weapons Buyer Busted
Australian police arrested a man after he posted a selfie on the dark web to buy weapons.
According to police reports, 28-year-old Hai Po Zhang was arrested in Western Sydney Park where he was set to meet a darknet weapons vendor to collect his package. Zhang posted a photo with his name and signature to an account that was used to pay for the illegal firearms bought from the dark web.
For Zhang, a search for illegal firearms led him to the deep web where he found an avenue to buy the weapons hoping not to be discovered but he was caught. Zhang had created an account on one of the cryptocurrency platforms and was in the market to buy an Uzi Micro rifle, AK-47, and a Glock. With the account in place, Zhang used the alias âsilly112â to initiate the whole process and pay for the weapons on April 27.
To collect his package, Zhang agreed to meet the seller at Sydney’s Bicentennial Park in May. At the park, Zhang met a man and upon producing a security token from the dark web, the seller was able to confirm his identity. It is after collecting his package from the seller that the police arrested Zhang and found him in possession of illegal firearms. According to police reports filed in court, Zhang paid for the guns using cryptocurrency valued at $10,070.
In court, the police prosecutor presented his case arguing that Zhang opened a cryptocurrency account with the aim of buying the weapons. According to the prosecutor, Zhang chose to pay for the firearms using bitcoin because of its anonymous nature.
â[However] our capable police were able to arrest him after he picked up his package of arms from the seller,â the prosecutor commented. In addition to buying the firearms, police suspected that Zhang could be the person communicating online through code name âbricksâ. Through a follow up on the online communication, the police discovered âbricksâ was in the processing of importing illegal drugs into Australia.
But in his clientâs defense, Zhangâs lawyer, Chris Eliopolous countered the prosecutor’s argument saying it wasnât expressly proven that Zhang bought the arms for his personal use. He put it forward that his client could have bought the firearms on behalf of someone else.
According to a report published by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, technology aids criminals in their illegal activities to a broader market. Instead of using traditional means to market their products, criminals have turned to the dark web to market them. Authorities are overwhelmed by the fact that today; it’s quite easy to view products on the dark web as long as one can access it. On top of it, all traders and buyers feel safer since the darknet is highly unregulated.
According to Australia’s squad commander of Drugs and Firearms, detective superintendent Peter McErlain, the police need to dig deeper when carrying out investigations about the dark web market. This is because criminals have turned their eye on the dark web to facilitate the illegal importation of drugs and arms across Australian borders.
“It is up to our cybercrime units to up their game and be on the forefront to curb such activities and help us arrest criminals like Zhang. With only one firearm on the hands of criminals, the results can be catastrophic. We as the police have to do thorough investigations on avenues suspected of facilitating trafficking of not only firearms but also drugs,” Detective Superintendent McErlain said.
Zhang applied for bail last week, offering to pay $1,000,000 to be placed under house arrest, but the judge denied his application. He is still in custody and will appear in court on July 5, for his sentencing.