News ID: 114595
Publish Date : 02 May 2023 - 22:29

‘Dark Web’ Bust Nets 288 Suspects in U.S., Europe

BRUSSELS (AFP) -- A multi-continental crackdown has halted a major “dark web” marketplace, with international police arresting 288 suspects and recovering more than 50 million euros ($54.8 million) in cash and virtual currency, Europol said Tuesday.
The joint operation called SpecTor by U.S., British, Brazilian and European law enforcement also netted almost a tonne of drugs and 117 firearms, Europe’s policing agency said.
“In an operation coordinated by Europol and involving nine countries, law enforcement have seized the illegal dark web marketplace ‘Monopoly Market’ and arrested 288 suspects involved in buying or selling drugs on the dark web,” the Hague-based Europol said in a statement.
“A number of these suspects were considered high-value targets,” Europol said.
The sting followed in the wake of a successful 2021 operation by German police in which it seized the Monopoly Market’s criminal infrastructure.
“Europol has been compiling intelligence packages based on troves of evidence provided by the German authorities,” Europol said.
“These target packages, created by cross-matching and analyzing the collected data and evidence served as the basis for hundreds of national investigations,” it said.
“As a result, 288 vendors and buyers who engaged in tens-of-thousands of sales of licit goods were arrested across Europe, Britain, the United States and Brazil,” Europol said.
The largest number of arrests were in the United States with 153, Britain 55, Germany 52 and the Netherlands, 10.
Police got back 50.8 million euros ($53.4 million) in cash and virtual currency and seized 850 kilograms of drugs, the majority composing of amphetamines, Europol said.
Police also seized 43 kg of cocaine, 43 kg of the drug MDMA and more than 10 kg of LSD and ecstasy pills.
Operation SpecTor comes in the wake of last month’s takedown of the world’s largest online marketplaces selling stolen identities and passwords.
Led by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Dutch police the operation called “Cookie Monster” saw 119 suspects arrested and involved 17 countries across the world.
“Cookie Monster” targeted the Genesis marketplace, where cybercriminals could buy stolen identities and passwords of more than two million people.
A cookie is a piece of computer data that makes it easier to reopen web pages. Cookie Monster is a blue, furry character from the U.S. children’s television series “Sesame Street”.