How do I get a gun

Self-experiment - This is how the darknet works

On Sunday, the investigators gave the answer how the gunman got the gun. While looking through the files on the gunman's computer, the experts came across chat logs that indicate that David S. bought the Glock 17 pistol in the so-called Darknet. The weapon was a reactivated theater weapon with a certification mark from Slovakia. It was apparently offered fully functional in the dark part of the network. The Darknet is a hideout of the Internet, away from Google search engines and department stores. But how do you get into this dark web? Is it really that easy to order a gun there? And what is the state doing about it? A look into the hidden world of the network. From three perspectives.

The self-experiment

Hotel room 235 on the outskirts of downtown Hamburg: Ralf Paulat (name changed by the editorial team) sits at his desk, opens his notebook and connects to the WiFi network. "Now add an anonymous IP address via Private Internet Access and we can get started," says the man in his forties with a mustache and hoodie. Ralf Paulat is an undercover investigator for companies. Among other things, he tracks down plagiarism in online department stores or is on the trail of other criminals. Investigators don't like to talk about what exactly he does. One thing is certain: Paulat is one of the few non-criminals who are familiar with the world of the Darknet. He has agreed to demonstrate how to order a gun there. "There are a lot of freaks out there - believe me," he announces.

We get into it via the Tor browser. Tor stands for "The Onion Router" and like an onion, our internet connection is now routed shell by shell via three servers. Everything encrypted, everything with a suppressed IP address. After that, no one can understand who we are. "We are practically invisible," says Paulat and copies a seemingly cryptic address into the address field of the browser. He had previously found out about hidden forums and marketplaces on the Internet in order to create a small address book. This is how all perpetrators do it: They calmly read on the Internet where they can find something on the Darknet. This is necessary because the Darknet doesn't know Google. If you don't know exactly where you want to go, stay outside.

Paulat is a professional. First of all, it takes on a new identity. It takes less than an hour and he is New Zealander, has a new credit card and $ 1,000 counterfeit money - all collected in illegal internet shops. Everything together costs 2500 euros. Payment is made with Bitcoin, a virtual currency that can be bought on a normal exchange. Mind you: We don't buy, we don't want to commit a crime.

The most complicated thing about the order is the delivery, which has to remain anonymous. But the criminals have also found solutions for this. “They just go to run-down residential areas, stick the name of their fake identity on an orphaned mailbox and simply pull out the mail when it arrives.” The parcel carrier is also happy to be intercepted on the doorstep, says the expert.

In special forums we encounter detailed instructions to perfect your Darknet presence: How do I stay anonymous? How do I solve the delivery problem. Understanding the darknet seems only a matter of time. We encounter drugs such as amphetamines, counterfeit cigarettes and drugs ranging from antidepressants to antihypertensive drugs. And weapons. Lots of weapons. A brand new Black Rain from Adams Arms is available for $ 900. The seller has good reviews. Reactivated theatrical weapons are also easy to get here, such as the Glock 17 that David S. used in Munich for his deed.

“The deeper you go, the more you find. Actually everything is available on the Darknet, ”says Ralf Paulat. We deliberately do not look for child porn and other machinations by perverts. There are enough renowned authors who have already written extensively about the fact that pedophiles not only exchange pictures on the Darknet, but apparently also give specific instructions on how to produce chloroform and build cellar prisons soundproof. "There are no limits to disgust," says Paulat. The Darknet is by no means as easy to use as an online supermarket. “Of course, people talk about such things in darknet chats. You basically have to win their trust first, ”says Paulat and ends our excursion to the dark side of the internet after a few hours. The bottom line: If you invest a little time, even laypeople will get almost everything on the Darknet.

The expert for darknet weapons

Norbert Schindler from the Customs Investigation Office in Munich is an official expert and is considered one of the most renowned weapons experts in Germany. He is in demand nationwide in court proceedings and makes his expertise available to public prosecutors and courts. Schindler and his colleague Petra Loos examine all kinds of weapons for their dangerousness. The sawed-off pump gun that he is currently holding in his hand was traded on the Darknet. It is more than dangerous. “There are 390 pellets in each cartridge. If you are hit in the leg from about a meter, your skin will first burn, then the flesh will peel off the bone and then the leg will lie down, ”explains Schindler quite vividly with his Upper Bavarian dialect. Guns and their technology fascinate the avid smoker, as a gunsmith, he had been familiar with all kinds of rifles and revolvers since grandfather.

For a good year, the attacks from Darknet cases have been booming, they say at the Munich customs investigation office. From assault rifles to Kalashnikovs, from explosives to anabolic steroids, everything is available in the cyber underground. “The perpetrators come from all social classes - from gardeners to doctors to schoolchildren, virtually everything is represented. Some just want to arm themselves, others smell big business, ”says Schindler. The confiscated firearms, including those from the Darknet cases, then end up in an evidence room in the basement of the historic customs investigation office. There are almost 400 pieces in total, including rarities such as a collapsible submachine gun in handbag format or a pistol that was built so slim that it can be easily smuggled into a screen. “The hiding places are becoming more and more sophisticated. We have already found weapons in animal waste and scrap, ”says Norbert Schindler and carefully locks the weapons store. Tons of other illegal items such as smuggled cigarettes, water pipe tobacco or fakes of high-quality, technical devices are stored in other chambers next door. Customs investigators often find a whole range of different illegal products during raids and arrests - perpetrators like to base their business on several pillars. Rolex watches and valuable cars are actually always to be found among the seizures in large cases.

Incidentally, Norbert Schindler not only examines firearms from the Darknet: Throwing stars or a hand lawn edger are also considered weapons. "As dangerous as a grass trimmer is, we sometimes test it on a chicken leg from the supermarket," says Schindler and laughs.

The darknet investigators