FBI, Europol make hundreds of arrests in dark web shutdown

(Image credit: Archive)

A major policing operation has arrested hundreds of vendors and customers that were using a previously seized dark web marketplace to buy and sell illicit goods.

In an announcement, Europol and the FBI revealed that in an international operation codenamed “SpecTor”, it identified and arrested 288 vendors and customers and seized $55.9 million in cash and various cryptocurrencies. 

"Europol has been compiling intelligence packages based on troves of evidence provided by German authorities, who successfully seized the marketplace's criminal infrastructure in December 2021," the announcement reads. The marketplace’s criminal infrastructure the law enforcement agency refers to is known as “Monopoly Market”, and was seized by German authorities in 2021.

Analyzing data

Since then, Europol has been analyzing the data collected, to build cases and make arrests. Apparently, hundreds of cases were built using that data.

"These target packages, created by cross-matching and analyzing the collected data and evidence, served as the basis for hundreds of national investigations,” the announcement further reads. "The vendors arrested as a result of the police action against Monopoly Market were also active on other illicit marketplaces, further impeding the trade of drugs and illicit goods on the dark web."

People used Monopoly Market to buy and sell drugs, guns, and other illegal goods and services. In this raid, Europol seized confiscated 850 kilograms of drugs (including cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, LSD, ecstasy), and 117 firearms. As the customers used Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrencies for payment, these were taken, as well.

The majority of the people who were arrested were located in the United States (153), followed by the UK (55), Germany (52), the Netherlands (10), and Austria (9).

Besides Europol, multiple other law enforcement agencies were involved in SpecTor, including the FBI, and national police forces of the UK, France, Poland, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Switzerland and the UK.

Via BleepingComputer

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.