Independent Darknet Market Operator Busted in Northern Ireland
A recent court appearance by Kamil Balicki, a 32-year-old man living in Northern Ireland, shed some light on the takedown of one of the biggest independent darknet market operators in the UK. The native of Poland attended a remote hearing on Jan. 18th and was aided by a Polish interpreter. He is charged with attempting to import heroin and the possession of cocaine, amphetamine, and cannabis with the intent to supply, using a self-created shop on the dark web to do so.
Prosecutors allege Balicki began his career as a darknet market vendor in May 2020, operating his independent market from his Ballymena address up until January 17th of this year, when he was arrested.
Police were tipped off about Balicki’s operations in October 2020 after Border Force officers stopped two heat-sealed envelopes containing 123 grams of heroin from reaching his home address. The heroin was being imported from the Netherlands for local resale via his site on the dark web, according to “cyber-investigators” working the case.
Police described Balicki’s enterprise as an “online shopping site on the dark web which was openly advertising heroin, cocaine, as well as cannabis”. The site purported to have accumulated 270 “positive feedbacks” from supposed customers, suggesting it was fairly popular in the area.
Confiscated during his arrest were 40-50 grams of heroin, 30-40 grams of cocaine, and 30 grams of marijuana. Police also confiscated mixing bowls, an assortment of unidentified powders, electronic devices, and a large quantity of cash.
Balicki, a factory worker with no prior criminal record, was denied bail and will be remanded in custody in Maghaberry Prison until the case resumes on Feb. 10th.
Ballymena, in County Antrim, has appeared as the center of darknet market-related news in the past. In April 2017, a 14-year-old boy was arrested in the town for attempting to buy a sub-machine gun and several thousand rounds of ammunition off the internet.