- A complex international police operation led to nearly 300 arrests and the confiscation of millions of dollars’ worth of drugs from dark web dealers.
- Europol coordinated with law enforcement agencies globally to shut down the “Monopoly Market” and catch individuals involved in illegal drug transactions.
- Over 50.8 million euros in cash and virtual currencies, 850 kilograms of drugs, and 117 firearms were seized in several countries, with the Dutch national police’s Cyber Enabled Crime Team playing an active role.
An international police operation has resulted in the arrest of almost 300 individuals and the confiscation of millions of dollars’ worth of drugs from dark web drug dealers.
According to European Union law enforcement agency Europol, law enforcement agencies worldwide coordinated to shut down an online marketplace, named “Monopoly Market,” and apprehend individuals involved in the purchase and sale of illegal drugs.
Europol and law enforcement shut dark web drug market
The operation marks a significant development in the fight against illicit goods and drug sales platforms on the dark web, an encrypted section of the internet accessible only via specialized anonymity tools.
“Our coalition of law enforcement authorities across three continents proves that we all do better when we work together. This operation sends a strong message to criminals on the dark web: International law enforcement has the means and the ability to identify and hold you accountable for your illegal activities, even on the dark web,” told Catherine De Bolle, Europol’s Executive Director.
Europol has reported that a total of 288 suspects have been taken into custody, and an impressive haul of more than 50.8 million euros in cash and virtual currencies, 850 kilograms of drugs, and 117 firearms have been seized in a series of raids spanning several countries. Police in the Netherlands, where 10 individuals were arrested, have described the operation as a combination of distinct yet mutually supportive measures that were carried out across nine nations in the preceding 18 months.
The Cyber Enabled Crime Team of the Dutch national police, which goes by the name SpecTor, was an active participant in the operation.
“The intelligence that Europol shared with us, such as transaction data and virtual currency addresses, helped us to start new investigations and to enrich existing investigations. In this way we have identified and apprehended a number of important Dutch sellers. The success of this operation again shows that international cooperation is essential in combating crime on the dark web,” stated Nan van de Coevering, the leader of the Dutch team.
The confiscated drugs include significant quantities of various substances such as over 258 kilograms of amphetamines, 43 kilograms of cocaine, 43 kilograms of MDMA, and more than 10 kilograms of LSD and ecstasy pills, according to Europol. The United States witnessed the most considerable number of arrests in the operation, with 153 individuals taken into custody, followed by the United Kingdom, which apprehended 55 suspects, and Germany, with 52 arrests, as per Europol’s data.
“A number of investigations to identify additional individuals behind dark web accounts are still ongoing. As law enforcement authorities gained access to the vendors’ extensive buyer lists, thousands of customers across the globe are now at risk of prosecution as well,” Europol stated.
Europol, headquartered in The Hague, gathered intelligence by analyzing evidence obtained from Germany, which had confiscated the “criminal infrastructure” of the marketplace in December 2021.
Before the operation that was disclosed on Tuesday, the German and U.S. authorities had already dismantled the “Hydra” dark web market in April of the previous year.