Within a few weeks a 19 year old boy from Leipzig, Germany built the biggest national online mail-order for illegal drugs. Under the nickname “Shiny Flakes” he sold cocaine, meth, ecstasy and various other drugs – all from the safety of his bedroom at his parents’ flat.
The article explores this case in the context of the darknet, the less acessable area of the internet, that enables illegal activity.
Shiny went to great lengths to hide his true identity online – the police had a hard time tracking him. He got caught however due to a very analog mistake: several of his packages containing hard drugs landed on the desk of the Leipzig police, because he hadn’t put enough stamps on them. A stake-out at the post office’s package-drop-point did the rest.
Right from the beginning this article was titled “Der Prinz des Darknet” (The prince of darknet), so I wanted to do something very dark and monochrome. Luckily the headline was kept for the final piece – something that is rather unusual.
The subjects of the pictures: the ominous door to his room with the glowing screen, the package drop and the desktop littered with drugs and toys came quite fast to me. The iceberg image does not really fit into the series, because it is more conceptual than the others. But it was necessary, because this article was more than just the story of Shiny, it also looked at the darknet as a frame for his activity.
I felt it was important to have the images as dark as possible, and black and white – not easy to push in a magazine. Not least thanks to the brave art direction by Antje Klein we could save these ideas to the final.
DER SPIEGEL (Germany)