A massive operation against Internet criminals has led to the arrest of 179 suspected sellers across Europe and the United States, European police agency Europol said on Tuesday (September 22nd).
The people arrested are involved in “Tens of thousands of sales of illicit products”, according to Europol. The vast majority of arrests took place in the United States, where 121 people were arrested. The other suspects were arrested in Germany (42), the Netherlands (8), the United Kingdom (4), Austria (3) and Sweden (1).
The suspects were operating on the dark Web, a parallel Internet network accessible by specialized software. The operation, which involved various US government agencies, including the FBI, led to the seizure of more than $ 6.5 million ($ 5.5 million) in cash and virtual currencies.
Police also seized some 500 kg of drugs, including fentanyl, oxycodone and heroin, as well as around 60 firearms, said Europol, which coordinated the operation with the unit. European Judicial Cooperation Eurojust.
An operation against opiate trafficking
In the United States, where the arrests are the most numerous, the operation was carried out in particular with the government agency for the fight against the trafficking of opiates, opium derivatives at the heart of a serious health crisis . In 2018, opiates were involved in nearly three quarters of overdose deaths in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Five people residing in Colorado, Nevada and California were notably arrested and accused by the American justice of participating in “One of the most prolific drug trafficking organizations in the United States”, which allegedly specializes in trafficking fentanyl, an opium derivative, the US Department of Justice said on Tuesday. “As the Covid-19 pandemic saw a spike in opioid-related overdose deaths, today’s announcement is very important”, Federal Police (FBI) Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.
This advert “Send a strong message” to criminals active on the dark web, said in a statement Edvardas Sileris, head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Center, adding that “The golden age of illegal dark web markets is over”.
In recent months, European police forces have also struck a blow at organized crime by managing to infiltrate EncroChat, an encrypted communication system that was widely used by criminals. The operation has led to hundreds of arrests across Europe.