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HomeBlogsDARK WEB DRUG BURST: 288 VENDORS ARRESTED AND $53.4 MILLION SEIZED

DARK WEB DRUG BURST: 288 VENDORS ARRESTED AND $53.4 MILLION SEIZED

Law enforcement officials from multiple countries have arrested 288 vendors suspected of being involved in drug trafficking on the dark web. The arrests happened during an international operation dubbed “Operation SpecTor” that led to the seizure of $53.4 million in cash and virtual currencies, 850 kg of drugs, and 117 firearms. The United States saw the highest number of arrests at 153, followed by the United Kingdom with 55, Germany with 52, the Netherlands with 10, Austria with 9, France with 5, Switzerland with 2, Poland with 1, and Brazil with 1. U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland called the operation the most successful coordinated international action ever, stating that it proved that drug traffickers operating on the dark web couldn’t function outside the law with impunity.

The arrests capitalized on evidence gathered after the German authorities dismantled the Monopoly marketplace in December 2021. It led to the arrest of 288 vendors and buyers who were active on various other illicit marketplaces. Europol, in a statement, revealed that some of the apprehended individuals were high-value targets. Law enforcement agencies also accessed the vendors’ buyer lists, potentially exposing thousands of customers who may face prosecution.

Operation SpecTor is the successor to DisrupTor and DarkHunTor, which led to the arrest of 329 suspects for coordinating the sale of illegal goods across underground marketplaces and shops in 2020 and 2021. Dismantling unlawful infrastructure used by malicious actors in laundering illegal proceeds and obscure money trails is part of a broader effort undertaken by governments in Europe and the United States.

In a separate incident, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Police of Ukraine seized nine virtual currency exchanges. These exchanges intentionally offered cryptocurrency conversion services to criminal actors responsible for ransomware and other scams. The seizure of these domains is part of the wider efforts to target criminals’ infrastructure aiding illegal proceeds laundering. The seized domains include 24xbtc.com and 100btc.pro, pridechange.com, 101crypta.com, uxbtc.com, trust-exchange.org, bitcoin24.exchange, paybtc.pro, and owl.gold.

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