Internet

International Dark Web Crackdown Operation Results in 179 Arrests

By Bill Toulas / September 23, 2020

Europol, Eurojust, various US agencies, the Canadian police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence force, and five police forces in Europe (Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden) have taken part in a massive operation that resulted in the arresting of 179 individuals.

These people are accused of selling illicit drugs over dark web markets. The simultaneous raids have resulted in the confiscation of 500kg of drugs such as fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, MDMA, and medicine containing addictive substances. In addition to all that, the police seized $6.5 million in cash and crypto, as well as 64 firearms.

Europol’s Edvardas Šileris commented the following on this big bust:

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

One hundred twenty-one of the drug vendors were based in the United States, 42 were arrested in Germany, eight in the Netherlands, four in the UK, three in Austria, and one in Sweden. The FBI has even published images of the places they raided, showing 30,000 pills, handguns, and bags with methamphetamine.

drugs

Source: FBI

guns

Source: FBI

pills

Source: FBI

All in all, the arrested individuals are now facing four criminal charges, namely narcotics trafficking, conspiracy, money laundering, and firearms. As for the possible sentences, something between 10 and 25 years of imprisonment should be considered a certainty for them.

The law enforcement authorities confirmed that these sellers carried out more than 18,000 individual sales, many of which were traced by the FBI and other agencies. This means that the buyers, who thought they remained anonymous, are, in many cases, exposed. Agents already visited some of these buyers to let them know that their purchases aren’t anonymous, and offered them treatment resources. This is another reminder that buying illegal stuff on the dark web is not free of prosecution risks, and that wouldn’t be the only risk taken.

In many cases, these vendors will just get the client’s money and trick them into thinking they’ve shipped something to them. They could also plant malware to their clients’ device, or send drugs that are laced with dangerous and even life-threatening substances. The dark web appears to be a resort to those who are looking to buy drugs, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown period, but no matter how you see it, it is not worth the risk.



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