179 Arrested for Darknet Drug Trafficking

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A global sting operation targeting drug trafficking on the darknet has led to 179 arrests and the seizure of weapons, drugs, and millions of dollars in cash and virtual currencies.

Operation DisrupTor was conducted across the United States and Europe and was a collaborative effort between the law enforcement and judicial authorities of Austria, Cyprus, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

According to a statement released today by Europol, the 179 individuals arrested as part of the operation were vendors who had allegedly engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods. 

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

Hinting at more arrests to come, Europol said: "A number of investigations are still ongoing to identify the individuals behind dark web accounts." 

Law enforcement seized $6.5m, 64 firearms, and 500 kilograms of drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA, and medicine containing addictive substances.

"The golden age of [the] dark web marketplace is over," said Europol. "Operations such as these highlight the capability of law enforcement to counter encryption and the anonymity of dark web marketplaces."

The head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), Edvardas Šileris, said: "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."

Operation DisrupTor builds on the success of last year’s Operation SaboTor and the coordinated law enforcement takedown of the Wall Street Market, one of the largest illegal online markets on the dark web. 

"Following the Wall Street Market takedown in May 2019, US and international law enforcement agencies obtained intelligence to identify Darknet drug traffickers," stated the United States Department of Justice. "Darknet vendor accounts were identified and attributed to real individuals selling illicit goods on Darknet market sites such as AlphaBay, Dream, WallStreet, Nightmare, Empire, White House, DeepSea, Dark Market and others." 

As a result of operation DisrupTor, federal prosecutions are being conducted in more than 20 federal districts.

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