After the alleged courier, a Bulgarian called Zhivko Z., was arrested—his trial also begins in Leipzig on August 24th—an entire hour went by before a SWAT team stormed Maximilian's room. At this point the authorities had amazing luck: Prosecutors allege that Maximilian was not as protective of his data as he let on in an interview with Motherboard.The authorities not only found a neatly laid-out list of deliveries made since December 2013, including notes made on individual orders, they also found a document listing all of the most important logins for running his platforms. It was a pretty lucky find for the authorities. Only a month prior to the seizure they had no idea who they were actually looking for, then imagine: They're standing in a 20-year-old's bedroom that's packed to the brim with drugs with a text document open on his laptop giving them access to all of his accounts.
The authorities were very lucky. They not only found a neatly laid-out list of all deliveries, they also found a text document on his laptop containing the most important logins.
The supposed anonymity of online dealing has changed the profile of the successful dealer. They no longer necessarily have to be a violent and scary puppet master—as the example of Ross Ulbricht demonstrates—they can be a loner, new-kid-on-the-block-type, who would rather sit at home and deal online than have contact to the outside world; a person whose strengths lay in strategy, computer skills, cryptography and logistics. Maximilian did not even own a pocket knife.Obviously secrecy is the supreme virtue when it comes to all the physical and digital traces created by online dealing. And this was Maximilian's forte. He knew that the police wouldn't be capable of reading his emails that were PGP encrypted or following his Bitcoin cash flows. He was smart enough to know how to set up his online business with the help of Tor without being discovered. His shop sites' addresses were registered in Tonga and the Cocos Islands; the servers were in the Netherlands. He operated on the darknet and clearnet, advertised what he was selling openly, and felt safe—as safe as you can feel when you're selling a huge variety of illegal substances globally. The police had nothing on him online. They had nothing on him until they were in his room, which was his warehouse and his headquarters.
The police had nothing on him online, until they were right in his room, which served as his warehouse and his headquarters.
The authorities have elsewhere proved to not be all too tactically skilled in their investigation. An innocent resident of the same apartment building in Gohlis was also observed and suspected of being the operator of the Shiny Flakes drug delivery business, even though the police had succeeded in taking a picture of Maximilian at "his" package station and in following him back to his apartment building. A simple comparison with the personal information and photos of the building's residents at the Leipzig registration office could have cleared this other suspect. Instead, the Leipzig Police contacted property management and surveilled a totally innocent individual for over a week.Whether the former drug kingpin, who has been held in a detention center for half a year now, can still be prosecuted as a minor is also up for debate. The amount of drugs allegedly found in his room is over 15,000 times more than what the law defines as "minor amounts." If he's prosecuted as an adult, he faces up to 15 years in prison.We will continue to report on the trial as it unfolds.
An innocent resident of the same apartment building was also also observed, even though the police already had taken a picture of Maximilian.