Police in the US, UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and elsewhere, have disrupted online criminals using the dark web to push their illegal goods.

According to Europol, a co-ordinated operation known as DisrupTor launched today, which targeted vendors and buyers of illicit goods on the dark web.

The good news is that the operations seems to have been a success, with many arrests, and the seizure of drugs, cash (both physical and crypto) and guns.

Takedown operation

The operation was apparently led by the German Federal Criminal Police with the support of the Dutch National Police, Europol, and other law enforcement agencies around the world.

According to Europol, this takedown operation “provided investigators with quantitative data and materials to identify suspects behind dark web accounts used for illegal activity.”

It said that 179 vendors who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit good were arrested across Europe and the United States.

And it seems that over $6.5 million was seized in both cash and virtual currencies, alongside some 500 kilograms of drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA, and medicine containing addictive substances.

In addition 64 firearms were also recovered.

The arrests were carried out in the United States (121), Germany (42), the Netherlands (8), United Kingdom (4), Austria (3), and Sweden (1).

A number of investigations are still ongoing to identify the individuals behind dark web accounts, Eurepol said.

“Law enforcement is most effective when working together, and today’s announcement sends a strong message to criminals selling or buying illicit goods on the dark web: the hidden internet is no longer hidden, and your anonymous activity is not anonymous,” said head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, Edvardas Šileris.

“Law enforcement is committed to tracking down criminals, no matter where they operate – be it on the streets or behind a computer screen,” Šileris said.

Dark web

Police have been conducting operations against dark web vendors for years now, and their expertise has also increased over this time.

In 2017 for example, a co-ordinated takedown operation involving multiple law enforcement agencies, resulted in the closure of two criminal marketplaces (AlphaBay and Hansa) responsible for the trading of drugs, firearms and malware.

In 2018 former Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced £9m in funding to crackdown on criminals exploiting the dark web.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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