Two men suspected of dealing MDMA on dark web arrested after drug raids in South Shields and Hebburn
Suspected members of an organised crime group selling huge amounts of MDMA on the dark web have been targeted in raids across South Tyneside.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) launched an investigation last summer after parcels of MDMA destined for addresses across the world were intercepted by the NCA and Border Force officers.
Analysis of messages shared on encrypted messaging platform EncroChat enabled officers to identify individuals believed to be involved in supplying the drugs and laundering money using cryptocurrency.
A total of 90 kilos of MDMA, 134 kilos of Amphetamine and more than 6000 Diazepam/alprazolam tablets, with a combined street value of £4.3 million, were recovered during the investigation which spans the UK and USA.
On Thursday, April 1, raids were carried out at two addresses in South Shields and two addresses in Hebburn as officers seized mobile phones, computers and drug packaging paraphernalia.
Two men, aged 24 and 31, were arrested at addresses in South Shields and Hebburn respectively, on suspicion of importing and supplying Class A, B and C drugs.
They remain in custody for questioning.
Another two people from South Shields, who are believed to be abroad, are wanted by the NCA and have been urged to hand themselves in.
NCA Operations Manager Martin Clarke said: “This action against an organised crime group supplying drugs via the dark web has dismantled a well-established operation.
“We have worked closely with partners in the US to target the individuals involved, who are ultimately preying on the vulnerable and destroying communities.
“This investigation shows that those who try to use the dark web and encrypted communication devices to anonymously commit crimes can be identified.
“There are two people from South Shields we are still seeking, who we believe are overseas.
"They know they are wanted, and I would encourage them to hand themselves in.”
One crime group member, Mubinar Rahman, aged 25, from South Shields, who was arrested last July and admitted posting over 100 packages, is due to be sentenced on April 21, at Newcastle Crown Court.
US Homeland Security Investigations Attaché Eric Felman said: “The strong partnership between Homeland Security Investigations and the National Crime Agency continues to produce positive results in combating organised international crime affecting both of our countries.”