Law enforcement agencies around the world have arrested 179 people involved in buying and selling illegal goods and services on the Dark Web as part of a coordinated international operation involving services in nine countries - and police have warned cybercriminals that " the golden age of the Dark Web is over ”.
The coordinated campaign was led by the German Federal Criminal Police, with the support of the Dutch National Police, the National Crime Service. United Kingdom, of their government services USA, of the Ministry of Justice, of FBI and Europol.
Known as Operation Disruptor, it follows the collapse of last year’s Wall Street Market, which was then the second largest illegal online shopping on the dark web.
Law enforcement has been able to identify Wall Street Market users who have been tracking users of other online stores on the dark web, including AlphaBay, Dream Nightmare, Empire, White House, DeepSea, Dark Market and others - resulting in 179 arrests.
The highest number of arrests took place in the US, with 121, followed by 42 arrests in Germany. Eight arrests have been made in Netherlands, four in the United Kingdom, three in Austria and one in Sweden.
The detainees appear to be involved in the sale of illegal goods and services, including drugs and firearms, with large quantities of products confiscated by law enforcement. Over $ 6,5 million in cash and cryptobodies have also been seized following the arrests.
"The golden age of the dark web market is over. Businesses like these emphasize the ability of law enforcement to offset encryption and the anonymity of online stores on the dark web. "The police are no longer just cracking down on these illegal markets - they are also prosecuting criminals who buy and sell illegal goods through such sites," the European agency Europol said in a statement. "The dark web is not a fairy tale - sellers and buyers will no longer be hiding in the shadows," he said.
"Law enforcement is more effective when you work together, and today's announcement sends a strong message to criminals selling or buying goods illegally on the dark web: the internet is no longer hidden and your activity is not anonymous ", said the head of the European Cybercrime Center Edvardas Κileris Europol (EC3).
"Law enforcement is committed to locating criminals, no matter where they operate - either on the streets or behind a computer screen," he added.
Authorities from Austria, Cyprus, Germany, the Netherlands, The Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States were involved in the operation that led to the arrests. Investigations are ongoing, with law enforcement hoping to make further arrests in the future.