150 Arrested Over Darknet Drug Trafficking

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An international law enforcement action has led to the arrest of 150 individuals worldwide on suspicion of buying or selling illicit goods on the dark web. 

Operation Dark HunTor involved the combined effort of police forces in nine different countries who carried out a series of separate but complementary actions, coordinated by Europol and Eurojust. 

Following actions in Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, 234kg of drugs and 45 firearms were seized along with more than $31m in cash and virtual currencies. 

Included in the drug haul were 152.1kg of amphetamine, 21.6kg of cocaine, 26.9kg of opioids, 32.5kg of MDMA, in addition to more than 200,000 ecstasy, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methamphetamine pills, and counterfeit medicine.

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) said that it considers the 150 alleged vendors and buyers arrested in the operation to be "High-Value Targets" who it suspects engaged in tens of thousands of illegal goods sales. 

The bulk of the arrests were carried out in the United States (65), Germany (47), and the United Kingdom (24). 

In a statement released today, the United States Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs said that through Operation Dark HunTor, darknet vendor accounts had been identified and attributed to real individuals selling illicit goods on active marketplaces, as well as inactive darknet marketplaces such as Dream, WallStreet, White House, DeepSea, and DarkMarket.

"Operation Dark HunTor stems from the takedown earlier this year of DarkMarket, the world’s then-largest illegal marketplace on the dark web," said Europol.

"At the time, German authorities arrested the marketplace’s alleged operator and seized the criminal infrastructure, providing investigators across the world with a trove of evidence.”

Europol said that ever since DarkMarket’s takedown, its European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) had been “compiling intelligence packages to identify the key targets.”

Prior to, but in support of, Operation Dark HunTor, authorities in Italy shut down the DeepSea and Berlusconi dark web marketplaces, which featured over 40,000 advertisements for illegal goods. Four alleged administrators were arrested, and €3.6m in crypto-currencies were seized in coordinated Italian–US operations.

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