Europol investigation busts 150 high value darknet vendors
Police around the world have arrested 150 suspects involved in trading illegal goods online in a major Europol investigation, someone with inside knowledge of the operation told DW.
The operation targeted vendors who operated on the DarkMarket site, which was taken down by police in January, the insider told DW.
German prosecutors at the time said DarkMarket came to the fore during a major investigation against the web-hosting service Cyberbunker, located in a former NATO bunker in southwest Germany.
Since then, investigators have worked to unmask people who sold illegal goods on the site, culminating in Tuesday’s bust.
The police raids, which reportedly took place in Australia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, resulted in the arrest of “high-value targets.”
Dozens arrested in Germany
Many of those arrested were in Germany.
Darknet marketplaces allow drug vendors to sell and ship their goods in supposed security. In the past, investigators have managed to take down the operators of such sites, but catching vendors has proven to be more tricky.
Later on Tuesday afternoon, Europol is expected to give a news conference in Washington, where the agency will provide further details regarding the investigation.
The AFP news agency reported that law agents also confiscated €26.7 million ($31 million) in cash and virtual currencies, as well as 45 guns and 234 kilograms (516 pounds) of drugs, including 25,000 ecstasy pills.
According to AFP, in the United States police arrested 65 people, while 47 were held in Germany, 24 in Britain, and four each in Italy and the Netherlands, among other countries.