Slovenian police and US law enforcement prevent a revenge mass killing with darknet-purchased weapons

The Slovenian police, in cooperation with the US law enforcement agencies, have averted a mass killing which was to take place in a public institution in Slovenia. The suspect, whose motive was revenge, ordered €5,000 worth of guns and ammunition on the darknet.

A person who is reasonably suspected of having attempted to commit the criminal offence of Illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in weapons or explosives has been brought before an investigating judge of the competent District Court. The weapons and ammunition were seized. The suspect was remanded in custody. The investigation, in which covert investigative measures were used in addition to classic information gathering, was conducted under the guidance of the District State Prosecutor’s Office of competent jurisdiction.

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Note: The weapons in the photo are not the ones actually seized.

There is a reasonable suspicion that the suspect, who is a Slovenian national, attempted to import, by using postal delivery, two firearms and ammunition from the US to Slovenia. The firearms were a Glock semi-automatic pistol, a Remington Arms automatic weapon and 240 rounds of ammunition for these firearms. They were packaged and concealed in a microwave oven. The suspect paid about €5,000 for the weapons.

The shipment, which was ordered on the darknet, was intercepted by the US law enforcement authority. The US authorities then informed the Slovenian police of their discovery via standards international channels and seized the weapons.

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The seized pistol

The police immediately launched an intensive criminal investigation and started gathering information on the buyer and the purpose and circumstances of the firearm purchase. The buyer was quickly tracked down and it was established that the weapons had been purchased in order to commit criminal offences against life and body.

During the investigation, it was determined that the purpose of buying the weapons was to use them for a mass killing to be carried out in a particular public institution. There are indications that there were other potential (also accidental) victims and two other public institutions as possible targets. The motive of the planned attack was the suspect’s revenge on individuals known to the suspect. So far, no special circumstances concerning the suspect’s relationship with his intended victims were determined; however, this part of the investigation is still ongoing. If suspicions arise of any criminal conduct committed by other persons against the suspect, the police will take appropriate action.

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The seized ammunition

All the information gathered so far points to the suspect carrying out preparatory acts alone. The suspect was arrested at his home by officers of the Special Unit. He did not resist the arrest.

During the investigation, evidence was seized that corroborates the reasonable suspicion of the criminal offences of attempted illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in weapons or explosives and attempted murders. Illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in weapons or explosives carries the sentence of six months to five years imprisonment, while for murder, the perpetrator is sentenced to imprisonment for at least fifteen years, while for two or more of such criminal offences a sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed.

The suspect, who was not known to the police before, cooperated with the police and was remanded in custody.

The police have been actively involved in activities for the protection of potential victims and targeted institutions. We are also available to any other persons who are in any way connected to the suspect but were not the intended targets, for assistance and counselling.

All circumstances point to the fact that there was a real threat of a mass killing being carried out and that the Slovenian police, in cooperation with the US law enforcement authorities, managed to avert the tragedy.

The targeted institutions and potential victims that are part of our investigation are requested to keep the information received in the police procedure confidential and not to share it with the public. They can contact the police any time for help or information.

We also ask the media to be aware of the sensitivity of the case and to respect the privacy of all involved as much as possible and to try and protect the persons and institutions involved.

Slovenia sees an unprecedented case of planned mass shooting

Slovenia’s police have investigative experience in the field of multiple murders and attempted murders, yet this particular incident is different and unlike anything that the police have had to deal with so far although police officers regularly receive training in how to respond to active shooter events or other similar incidents.

Results of the criminal investigation revealed that the suspect had been planning a mass shooting. The suspect was found to have ordered and purchased the firearms and ammunition for the purpose of using them against individuals who are known to him and who live in the local area.

The suspect’s plans were thwarted early enough due to effective response by US law enforcement and Slovenia’s criminal police, resulting in the arrest of the suspect.

International cooperation crucial to prevention of extreme types of crime

International police cooperation plays a key role in successful investigation of illicit firearms trafficking and other types of international crime.

Slovenia’s police have developed a strong record of professional cooperation with partner police organisations in the EU and internationally. Slovenia holds membership in a number of international associations whose primary goals include effective cooperation in detecting international organised crime. Cooperation with Europol and Interpol and under bilateral inter-state agreements is equally important.

Both the EU and Slovenia give important priority to successful combating of all forms of international organised crime, including illicit trafficking and trading in weapons.

Special attention to victims of crime

The primary task of the police is to protect human life and to ensure safety in its broadest sense, which also includes preventing, detecting and investigating crime. The police devote special attention to victims of crime. An in-depth interview is conducted with each victim and an individual threat assessment is carried out and regularly updated. When a criminal complaint is lodged, the update of the individual threat assessment is provided by the state prosecution service assisted by the police.

Measures taken by the police to protect victims range from preventive advice on self-protective behaviour to close surveillance of the victim’s premises, protection by means of technical devices or even physical protection. In case the perpetrator is placed in detention or in custody, a victim of crime has to be informed of their release. A competent judicial authority notifies thereof the police and the police informs the victim. The police carry out appropriate measures to protect the victim.

The police receive training to respond to an imminent life threatening situation

The case under investigation includes elements of an imminent life threatening situation referred to as an amok situation or a killing spree. It is an emergency situation where one or more persons obtain a weapon (usually firearms) or another dangerous item (e.g. explosive, knife, etc.) and kill or attack one or more victims indiscriminately or systematically. There are different reasons for those sudden mass assaults, usually various psychopathological states or revenge to individuals or the community.

No mass killing in a public place has ever been committed in Slovenia. If the suspect had actually proceeded to the planned mass shooting, Slovenia would have faced an active shooter situation.

Over the past decade, the national police have been systematically trained to respond to an active shooter situation or other critical incidents. The training includes prevention as well as intervention measures.

According to other European police forces that have tackled such dangerous situations, the police should be trained together with other intervention services to respond effectively.
That is why the national police cooperate with emergency medical services and firefighters; joint training of all stakeholders proves to be significantly important for successful intervention in mass killing incidents.

Darknet-related crime on the rise

The criminal investigation established that the suspect had purchased the weapons on the darknet. The darknet is a digital environment providing a relatively high level of anonymity to offenders using it, which makes it very difficult to detect and investigate crime related to it. This challenge is faced by many law enforcement agencies across the globe.

The Slovenian police follow current trends in criminal investigations, as crime related to the darket is becoming increasingly frequent in our investigations. The EU strives to unify legislative and operational practice (concerning detection, prevention, investigation, perpetuation of evidence, forensics).

Having overcome several challenges and obstacles, the national police assisted by foreign police forces detected, prevented and investigated a number of criminal offences related to the darknet. In mid-April, we reported on a successful investigation into trade in illicit drugs completed by the Murska Sobota police.

Anyone can help prevent such a critical incident from happening by providing timely information

Other law enforcement authorities report there may be some indications for an upcoming mass assault or killing such as suspect’s behaviour and communication or other circumstances.