150 people arrested and 26 million euros seized in a police operation directed at the dark web

As part of a coordinated international operation involving nine countries, police forces around the world have arrested 150 people involved in buying and selling illicit goods on the dark web.

This operation seized 26.7 million euros ($ 31 million) in cash and virtual currencies, in addition to 45 firearms and 234 kg of drugs. The seized drugs included 152 kg of amphetamines, 27 kg of opioids and more than 25,000 ecstasy pills.

Europol and Eurojust led the collaboration of this operation, called Dark HuntTOR, with a series of different but complementary actions carried out in Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Operation Dark HuntTOR was created following the withdrawal earlier this year of DarkMarket, the world’s largest illegal market on the dark web. The German authorities then arrested the alleged market operator and seized the criminal infrastructure, providing investigators around the world with extensive evidence. Since then, Europol’s European Cybercrime Center (EC3) has collected information to identify the main targets.

This resulted in the arrest, in Europe and the United States, of 150 sellers and buyers involved in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods. Europol considered that some of these suspects were very important targets.

These arrests took place in the United States (65), Germany (47), the United Kingdom (24), Italy (4), the Netherlands (4), France (3), Switzerland (2) and Bulgaria (1). Various investigations are still underway to identify other criminals using dark web accounts.

As part of this operation, the Italian authorities also closed the dark web markets DeepSea and Berlusconi, which alone totaled more than 100,000 advertisements for illegal products. They arrested four directors and seized 3.6 million euros in cryptocurrencies.

Europol’s EC3 facilitated the exchange of information within the framework of the European Action Force Against Cybercrime (J-CAT) hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands.

For Europol Deputy Executive Director of Operations Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, the goal of operations like Dark HuntTOR is to let criminals active on the dark web know that the police have the resources and partnerships globally that allow them to unmask them and hold them accountable. of your illegal activities, including on this part of the web.

Buying on the dark web carries risks:

  • Shoppers run the risk of getting products that are not what they were looking for: opioids containing fentanyl, for example, have caused a series of fatal overdoses. There is also no guarantee of purchasing the products or services: criminals lurk in the shadow of the dark web.
  • Devices are at risk of being exposed to a large amount of malware aimed at looting shoppers’ data.
  • There are real risks of prosecution, as the use of the dark web for illegal activities is a punishable offense that can lead to jail in several countries.

Thinking of buying illegal products anonymously on the dark web?

Think twice The dark web is no longer as dark as some criminals would like. Law enforcement agencies have become used to working in this space and know how to create many different techniques to identify buyers and sellers of illicit goods.


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