Illegal Data Center Hidden in Former NATO Bunker


German investigators said Friday they have shut down a data processing center installed in a former NATO bunker that hosted sites dealing in drugs and other illegal activities. Seven people were arrested.


Thirteen people aged 20 to 59 are under investigation in all, including three German and seven Dutch citizens, Brauer said.

Authorities arrested seven of them, citing the danger of flight and collusion. They are suspected of membership in a criminal organization because of a tax offense, as well as being accessories to hundreds of thousands of offenses involving drugs, counterfeit money and forged documents, and accessories to the distribution of child pornography. Authorities didn’t name any of the suspects.

The data center was set up as what investigators described as a “bulletproof hoster,” meant to conceal illicit activities from authorities’ eyes.

Investigators say the platforms it hosted included “Cannabis Road,” a drug-dealing portal; the “Wall Street Market,” which was one of the world’s largest online criminal marketplaces for drugs, hacking tools and financial-theft wares until it was taken down earlier this year; and sites such as “Orange Chemicals” that dealt in synthetic drugs. A botnet attack on German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom in late 2016 that knocked out about 1 million customers’ routers also appears to have come from the data center in Traben-Trarbach, Brauer said.

EDITED TO ADD (10/9): This is a better article.

Posted on October 9, 2019 at 6:34 AM10 Comments


collin3 October 9, 2019 8:48 AM

“The data center was set up… to conceal illicit activities from authorities’ eyes.”

Criminals normally try to conceal their illicit activities from the authorities — what’s the big deal about this obscure event?

Freek October 9, 2019 9:53 AM

The title is a bit misleading, the datacenter was shut down not because it was illegal in itself, but because it was aiding illegal activities, and hence these people were accomplice to it.

Two article with some background: Brains behind Bullet Proof Hoster Germany was also the man behind Cyberbunker (in Dutch, use a online translator to get the gist) — the person was active earlier with “Bullet Proof Hosting”, a hoster that targets webproviders who like to remain anonymous. In short: they target illicit website, like Pirate Bay or dark web marketplace. They usually don’t target outright illegal activities. The news article mentions that they try to ban ‘terrorists and child pornography’ from their racks. If this is illegal is of course the question. A good legal analysis (sorry, also Dutch) by legal IT expert Engelfriet points out that European an American laws have a provision that a hoster is not responsible for illegal activities, provided that they act as a “neutral intermediate” and take content offline when requested to do so, and when it is immediately obvious that the content is illegal (the Notice and Take Down process). As Engelfriet points out, you are hardly a “neutral intermediate” if you frame your business as a ‘bulletproof hoster’. Hence, even if the business in itself is not illegal (as the headline seems to point out), it was accomplice to illegal activities, and thus shut down.

Petter October 9, 2019 12:25 PM

There are many data centres and hosting facilities in Sweden which are built within ex military bunkers and bombproof shelters meant to protect during wars.

These are run by large commercial companies.
Bahnhof (ex more or less nuclear proof shelter Pionen)
Rockan (ex mil radar station)

They all uses the fact that they are located in a bomb proof shelter.

Nothing illegal at all.

Clive Robinson October 9, 2019 1:45 PM

@ Freek,

… legal IT expert Engelfriet points out that European an American laws have a provision that a hoster …

And thereby hangs a very significant problem.

The Internet is multinational and much is arguably in International waters or at the very least transnational trafic.

Untill not so long ago national legislation for good and proper legal reasons as well as honest to goodness sanity reasons, stopped at the borders, be they between countries or where national boarder becomes international waters.

It was in part the EU over fisheries legislation and the US in it’s insistance on primacy in taxation that effectively started the perversion of Governments claiming they have primacy over other nations legislation.

The result as always with such stupidity is that it legitimizes the militent minority or red line view which is detrimental to every one and it realy has to stop before it becomes an even greater cause for blood shed.

Some would alternatively suggest that “international democracy” through the likes of the UN should be the way to go. I’m very much against this as well for most legislation because it can only lead to oppression of actuall minorities.

To see why consider the simple case of differences in agrarian and technological regions. Their economies are in effect polar opposites, and as agrarian regions generally have a much much lower population density they would get no “democratic solitions” in their favour. Because they would always be outvoted by the more densely populated and thus higher voting population in a technological region. Even the founding fathers recognised that this would be a problem so they drew up the Electoral College system that eas in part suppossed to,

    Give the less populous states some additional leverage in the process by providing “senatorial” electors

The problem is that back in the late 1780’s the US population was a fraction of that which it is today and it’s distribution quite different, thus that “additional leverage” has in effect been wiped out.

It’s a subject that I expect will come back to the fore in the next few months.

But the overal problem remains that regions with different identities and small populations have two choices loose their voice and representation thus identity, or agitate for a voting process that is undemocratic in the strict sense.

And where ever the politicians go, the legislation is sure to follow…

Which brings us back to the “might is right” mentality. The EU has something like 8% of the worlds population and the USA half of that.

Thus why should the USA have any right of primacy interms of legislation outside it’s own territory? Likreise why should Europe allow the US to have any primacy in their region, as well as also claiming it has legislative primacy outside of it’s territory?

I think most readers of this blog have quite differing if not strong differences of opinion over the likes of the EU data regulations. That is the EU claim rights for it’s citizens over “non citizen off shore US corporate service providers”. Those US off shore corps in turn insist that US legislation takes primacy, mainly because it’s financially benificial for them to do so and US politicians appear to be more open to the effects of lobbying that inturn provides the off shore corperates more benificial legislation…

Which brings a third party player into the legislative game, one that is extreamly dangerous. These mega Corps are not that easy to deal with as they can be in many places simultaneously, thus can “shop for legislation” where and when they see fit. As transnational organisations they get to peddle influance where ever they chose. Thus they can vote for what looks good for them at any time or place and exhibite opposit views in different places, thus creating further chaos by which they profit greatly at the expense of citizens all around.

Thus it’s increasingly worrying that major corporations are not just subverting the political process they are in effect turning politics into a “for profit” game in which we all become involuntarily pressed, and have not just our assets stripped from us but our hard won rights and childrens futures.

- October 9, 2019 1:49 PM

@ Moderator,

The above from “Denil Wolter” is unsolicited service advertising encoraging individuals to cheat.

Petre Peter October 9, 2019 7:27 PM

Megacorps and for profit politics
are related.For profit politics gave us the megacorps which cannot exist without for profit politics.
Sadly, most of us know we are being lied to and choose to ignore the problem without really understanding that usually, ignorance is the last step.

Clive Robinson October 10, 2019 3:33 PM

@ Peter A.,

Looks much like a match factory…

Yup on the logic the authorities are demonstraiting, they would go after the “nursery man” who twenty years ago planted the seedlings for the conifer trees that provide the softwood for the match sticks as well…

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