Around 150 people were arrested as suspects involved in buying and selling drugs on the dark web, the US Department of Justice and Europol said on Tuesday, and were leading an international operation in which they were involved.
In this operation, more than 26.7 million euros in cash and virtual currencies were confiscated, as well as 234 kilograms of drugs – amphetamines, opiates and ecstasy pills – and 45 firearms, according to a statement.
Under the name “Dark HunTOR”, the operation involved a number of separate but complementary actions between Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the coordination efforts of Europol and Eurojust .
The operation dates back to the dismantling of DarkMarket, the world’s largest illegal market on the dark web, earlier this year when German authorities arrested the alleged market operator and seized the criminal infrastructure to provide investigators with a series of tests.
Europol’s European Cybercrime Center (EC3) has since put together information packs to identify the main objectives that led to this operation.
In particular, 150 sellers and buyers were arrested after participating in tens of thousands of illegal product sales across Europe and the United States.
As Europol has pointed out, these arrests took place in the United States, where 45 people were detained; Germany at 47; Great Britain with 24 and Italy with four) and the Netherlands, while three in France, two in Switzerland and one person in Bulgaria.
However, several investigations are ongoing to identify other people behind the web accounts.
As part of this operation, the Italian authorities closed the dark web markets DeepSea and Berlusconi with a total of more than 100,000 ads for illegal products, arrested four of their administrators and seized 3.6 million euros in cryptocurrencies.
Europol’s Deputy Executive Director of Operations, Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, has stressed that the aim of operations like this one is to “alert criminals operating on the dark web”.
“Law enforcement agencies have the resources and global associations to uncover them and hold them accountable for their illegal activities, including in areas of the dark web,” he said.