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Trial claims Revealed: George 'The Penguin' Mitchell's porn hub past

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George Mitchell

George Mitchell

George Mitchell

George ‘the Penguin’ Mitchell was the financier behind an underground bunker in the Netherlands where an ecstasy factory was discovered after a fire broke out.

Mitchell, it was claimed in a German court this week, loaned €700,000 to dark-net guru Herman Xennt to buy the bunker back in 1995 — more than 20 years before the pair were caught up in a major cyber crime probe into another bunker in Germany.

The claims that Mitchell and Xennt’s relationship stretches back to when the Dublin-born mobster first moved his operations to the Netherlands were made in court, where a massive trial got underway into the secret dealings of the former Cold War bunker in the Mosel Valley.

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The Cyber Bunker

The Cyber Bunker

The Cyber Bunker

Prosecutors allege the underground compound hosted darknet sites which facilitated drug dealing, money laundering, child abuse images and communication channels for contract killings.

The trial, which is due to run until December 2021, will centre on activities in the bunker where, the court has heard, Mitchell was trying to develop an encrypted phone system and app.

Mitchell had his own apartment in the Mosel Valley and visited the bunker for a few days every couple of weeks while it was under surveillance by cops.

He was a regular in a popular restaurant in the town and a local strip club with Xennt, who is accused of facilitating criminals to commit nearly 250,000 different offences.

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George Mitchell

George Mitchell

George Mitchell

Xennt is accused of being the ringleader of a group of eight who have gone on trial and is the same James Bond villain-type character that the Sunday World identified as an associate of Mitchell when we tracked down ‘The Penguin’ to the cyber bunker facility in 2015.

Evidence heard this week has thrown new light on the relationship between the unlikely pair.

During hearings, a witness who worked at the bunker but who cannot be identified, said that Mitchell – who went by the name Mr Green – was involved in a project called ‘Underground’ which he said brought in a lot of ‘black money’.

Over time, the witness said, Green, aka ‘The Penguin’, became increasingly involved in the data centre’s affairs and even made sure that the manager got a salary of €1,300 a month– an increase from the €65 a week the employees had once received.

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The court heard that the manager did not trust Mitchell, but that he had rented the crime godfather a flat in the village of Wittlich and paid the landlord in cash with money from Xennt.

The court heard Mitchell, who has homes in Spain and Holland, regularly visited the bunker with his ‘wife’, understood to be his mistress Khadiba Bouchiba, his former secretary. Mitchell’s wife Rebecca Shannon still lives in Amsterdam near her daughter Rachel.

In evidence, it was heard that in 2017 while the bunker and its occupants were under increasing surveillance and while Mitchell’s phones were being tapped by German police, there was a dispute between the crime lord and Xennt.

According to the witness, the row happened in the same restaurant where Xennt and others were eventually arrested in September 2019 after 650 police and military stormed the underground facility.

During a heated exchange, the witness said, Mitchell demanded Xennt return €700,000 he had loaned him to purchase a former Nato bunker in the Dutch town of Goes.

“X. was scared, but also angry,” the manager said. “I won’t pay a cent,” X said.

Xennt was just 35 when he bought the Goes bunker in 1995, at the time that the garda national drugs unit had discovered Mitchell was a key player in attempts to establish an ecstasy manufacturing operation here.

Operation Barbie culminated in the seizure of two ecstasy processing plants in Lucan and The Ward in Co Dublin, where a massive tablet pressing machine was discovered, before any of the tablets had been sent on to the streets. Mitchell quickly left Ireland and moved to the Netherlands.

Within a year, gardai launched Operation Wedgewood in a bid to stop a growing wave of large thefts and hijackings of consignments of computer parts.

Mitchell was identified as the criminal mastermind behind the lucrative racket and was caught red handed with €5 million in computer parts and jailed in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Xennt started CyberBunker in the former Nato facility which offered ‘bulletproof hosting’ for websites. Within years, it had become a central hub for porn sites and Xennt used the profits to buy up hundreds of servers.

In 2002, there was an explosion in a section that Xennt said he had rented out and in the charred ruins of the bunker police found the remnants of a laboratory for making ecstasy.

Xennt lost his licence but was not charged with any crime and said he knew nothing about the drug factory.

Xennt went on to declare his CyberBunker a republic and crowed himself its president, His Majesty King Xennt von CyberBunker.

He faded into the background again until he showed up in Germany where, in 2013, he bought another former Nato facility and turned it into another hosting facility.

It was there in 2015 that the Sunday World tracked down Mitchell and revealed the links between the two men for the first time.

During a lengthy German police investigation into the activities at the bunker, 16 phones belonging to Mitchell were tapped and he was placed under surveillance as he met with biker gangs and other known criminals.

The trial will proceed twice a week for at least 14 months and while Mitchell does not face any charges, his involvement with Xennt and his underground facility is expected to form a large part of the evidence.

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