$53.4 Million Seized, 288 Vendors Arrested in Dark Web Drug Bust
An international law enforcement operation has arrested 288 vendors believed to be involved in drug trafficking on the dark web, adding to the long list of criminal enterprises that have been shut down in recent years.
The effort, codenamed Operation SpecTorauthorities also seized more than $53.4 million in cash and virtual currency, 850 kg of drugs and 117 firearms.
The largest number of arrests were made in the US (153), followed by the UK (55), Germany (52), Netherlands (10), Austria (9), France (5), Switzerland (2), Poland (1) and Brazil ( 1).
“This represents the most funds seized and the highest number of arrests in any coordinated international action,” US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said. “Drug dealers believe that, by operating anonymously on the dark web, they can operate outside the law. They are wrong.”
The arrests stem from evidence gathered following the deletion of the Monopoly market by German authorities in December 2021. DarkDotFail, in early January 2022, revealed that the criminal bazaar server is likely to be seized by law enforcement, although there was no official announcement.
“Peddlers arrested as a result of police action against Monopoly Market are also active in other black markets, further hindering the trade of drugs and illicit goods on the dark web,” Europol said in a statement.
“As a result, 288 vendors and buyers involved in tens of thousands of illicit goods sales were arrested across Europe, the United States and Brazil.”
Europol said these arrested individuals were considered high-value targets, adding law enforcement agencies gained access to a vendor’s extensive list of buyers, potentially exposing “thousands of customers” who are now at risk of prosecution.
SpecTor Operations is a successor bully And DarkHunTorwhich led to the arrests of 329 suspects in 2020 and 2021 for buying, selling and coordinating the sale of prohibited items in underground markets and shops.
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This development also comes when the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Police of Ukraine seized nine virtual currency exchanges for knowingly offering cryptocurrency conversion services to criminal actors responsible for ransomware and other scams.
These nine seized domains, 24xbtc.com, 100btc.pro, pridechange.com, 101crypta.com, uxbtc.com, trust-exchange.org, bitcoin24.exchange, paybtc.pro, and owl.gold offer anonymous cryptocurrency exchange services to website visitors,” Department of Justice said.
The demolition is part of a wider effort by governments in Europe and the US to target infrastructure used by bad actors to launder illegal proceeds and obscure money trails.