Former police chief Yuri Zaitsev was recently sentenced to eight years in prison for fishing in a dark market. In December 2018, Zaitsev headed his branch of the Drug Control Administration in the Republic of Khakassia, a law enforcement agency similar to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). At the time, he called a dark market operator and offered to help track down the man who had received the drugs entrusted to him, to drive him into a dead end.
Unlike the United States, most dark web contractors in Russia do not trust their mail. The dominant form of distribution for these illegal products is through blind spots, a delivery method where two parties can send goods or information back and forth without meeting in person.
According to the General Investigation Department, the police officer received 52,000 bitcoin (BTC) rubles for his services. At the time, it was about $ 750, or 0.2 BTC. He was found guilty of bribery and disclosure of classified information.
According to Zaitsev’s wife, the persecution was punishable by investigating senior officials in his area. He was then fired and charged. From October to November 2019, Zaitsev uploaded a series of videos to YouTube in which he allegedly revealed corruption among senior officials in his administration. Apparently this is why a criminal case was opened against him for having released classified information. In November 2019, Zaitsev raised an appeal to President Vladimir Putin on YouTube, in which he pleaded not guilty, but to no avail.
During an unrelated Silk Road investigation, several police officers discovered what they thought was a simple, traceable Bitcoin coin. DEA special agent Karl Foers managed to obtain 1200 bitcoins from Ross Ulbricht. He was paid through a complex scheme in which he created a series of fake figures, from a large South American drug dealer to a corrupt police officer. One of Ulbricht’s tasks was to track down and kill the former employee who allegedly stole bitcoins from him. The thief himself was another police officer involved in the investigation. The killing was violent, but it never happened.
Events in Khakassia a few years after the Silk Road saga are somewhat reminiscent of a cheap local production of an expensive HBO show. As Karl Marx once said, history repeats itself “the first as a tragedy, the second as a farce.”