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German police seize darkweb servers from datacentre housed in ex-NATO bunker

Following a lengthy investigation, law enforcers in Germany have raided a datacentre in an ex-NATO bunker that is alleged to have been hosting illicit websites on the dark web

German law enforcers claim it could take years to sift through the data stored on servers seized by local police during a raid on a datacentre housed within an ex-NATO bunker, amid claims the site was being used to host dealing and child abuse sites.

According to an Associated Press report, the facility was shut down late last week following a long-running investigation that is understood to have been underway since May 2019.

More than 600 law enforcers are known to have taken part in the raid resulting in seven arrests being made, although 13 people are understood to be under investigation overall, ranging from 20 to 59 years age.

It is understood the site, located in Western Germany, was acquired in 2013 by a 59-year-old man who is thought to be the mastermind behind its transformation into an illegal activity-enabling datacentre.  

The facility is reported to have housed a range market places, specialising in the sale illicit goods, including the Wall Street Market, Orange Chemicals, and Cannabis Road -dealing platforms, as well as sites enabling the sale counterfeit goods and child abuse imagery.  

The site has also been linked to a botnet attack on German telco Deutsche Telekom in 2016 that disconnected one million its customers’ routers.  

Investigators have described the site as a “bulletproof hoster” in acknowledgement of the fact that it was built and operated so that the activities it housed could continue without alerting the authorities.

Johannes Kunz, a regional criminal police chief, hailed the raid as a “huge success”, especially given the effort involved with gaining physical access to the site.

A report by German news site, DW, claims the facility covers 5,000m2, and spans five floors underground, and is protected by fencing and surveillance cameras.

“That we were able to get police forces into the bunker complex, which is secured at the highest military level…we had to overcome not only real, or analogue protections, we also cracked the digital protections of the datacentre,” said Kunz.

Another German press report from SWR suggests 200 servers have been secured so far as a result of the raid, along with paper documents, mobile phones and large quantities of cash.

Kunz described the size of the haul as “gigantic”. He added: “This will keep us busy for several months or years.”

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