Illegal dark web marketplace shut down by joint DOJ, Europol operation

Breitbart reports that the dark web’s “DarkMarket,” a marketplace for illegal goods, has been shut down by authorities, and as a result, hundreds of arrests have been made in multiple countries.¬†

For those unfamiliar with DarkMarket, it is the web’s largest illegal marketplace with some 500,000 users. It’s the type of dark web, underground platform where one would find such things as stolen credit card information, weapons, and illegal drugs, much like the former “Silk Road.”

It is reported that somewhere in the neighborhood of 320,000 transactions took place on the site during the course of its existence.

“Dark HunTor”

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, teamed up on this one to take the DarkMarket down. According to The Verge, they called the operation, “Dark HunTor.”

The 10-month investigation concluded with the arrest of some 150 suspected drug vendors, and buyers. Sixty-five arrests were made in the United States, 47 in Germany, 24 in the United Kingdom, four in Italy, four in the Netherlands, three in France, two in Switzerland, and one in Bulgaria.

In addition to the arrests, law enforcement is reported to have seized $31.6 million in cash and cryptocurrencies. They also are reported to have seized around 234 kilograms of various illegal substances, including cocaine, opioids, amphetamine, MDMA, and fentanyl. Forty-five firearms were also recovered in the operation.

As part of the operation, Italy also shut down two other dark websites, “DeepSea,” and “Berlusconi.” From those two shutdowns, authorities recovered $4.17 million in cryptocurrency, and made two arrests.

Background

As Lecouffe suggests in his statement, the dark web used to be a fairly safe place for criminals to go about their illegal transactions. However, authorities around the globe have made strides in cracking down and eliminating such illicit marketplaces.

Over the past several years, a number of dark websites have been shut down, including “Dream,” “WallStreet,” “White House,” “DeepSea,” and, now, “Dark Market.’

It looks as though authorities are starting to catch up with the criminals on this one.

Europol’s Jean-Philippe Lecouffe released a statement following the arrests.

“The point of operations such as the one today is to put criminals operating on the dark web on notice: the law enforcement community has the means and global partnerships to unmask them and hold them accountable for their illegal activities, even in areas of the dark web,” Lecouffe said.

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