Historic strike on the dark web with 150 arrests

25,000 ecstasy pills, 40 firearms … On Tuesday, Europol announced that it had carried out a large-scale operation on the dark web. In total, more than 150 people, including three French, have been arrested around the world.

Bitcoin, drugs and seized weapons. This Tuesday, the European police agency Europol, based in The Hague, operated a hellish network on the dark web, this so-called “hidden” part of the web. In total, more than 150 suspects were arrested around the world during this operation in the wonderful name to say the least: “DarkHunTOR”.

The fact is historic, as it is one of the largest operations to date on this “clandestine” version of the Internet, which often fantasizes about being the site of all crimes. 65 sellers and customers were arrested in the United States, 47 in Germany, 24 in the United Kingdom, four in Italy and four in the Netherlands and three in France. Several of them “were important targets” for Europol. 26.7 million euros in cash and electronic coins, 25,000 ecstasy tablets and 45 firearms were seized.

Operation DarkHunTOR “consisted of a series of separate but complementary actions in Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States,” Europol said. It is, among other things, after the decommissioning, which took place in January under the leadership of the German DarkMarket police. In this cybermarket, more than 500,000 users and 2,400 vendors traded weapons, drugs and false documents. To put an end to the activities of this site, more than 20 servers located in Moldova and Ukraine were seized.

In Italy, the police have also closed the illegal markets called “DeepSea” and, with a touch of insolence, “Berlusconi”. Among them they presented “more than 100,000 advertisements for illegal products”, according to Europol, whose operation was coordinated with Eurojust, the European agency for judicial cooperation.

On the dark web, anonymity, as sought after by illegal sellers as by journalists, activists or whistleblowers, often complicates the task of the authorities when it comes to dismantling illegal networks. For an operation of this type, sometimes several years of work and infiltration are necessary.

Then, inevitably, in this net capture, Europol does not hesitate to puff out its chest: “The object of operations like this is to indicate to criminals operating on the dark web (that) the community responsible for enforcing the law has media and international associations to expose them and hold them responsible for their illegal activities, including in areas of the dark web, ”boasted Europol’s deputy director of operations, Jean-Philippe Lecouffe.


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