An international law enforcement operation dubbed ‘SpecTor’ has arrested 288 dark web vendors and customers around the world as police seized 50.8 million euros ($55.9 million) in cash and crypto -cash.
The sellers were active in a marketplace known as “Monopoly Market” which sold drugs to customers around the world in exchange for Bitcoin and Monero cryptocurrency.
Monopoly Market was launched in 2019 but was later seized by law enforcement in December 2021.
While some believed law enforcement seized the site at the time, others speculated that it was an exit scam, where owners stole cryptocurrency deposited on the site.
However, Europol confirmed for the first time today that Monopoly Market was seized by German authorities in 2021 and used to collect evidence on vendors and customers who bought and sold drugs on the site.
“Europol has compiled intelligence packages based on treasure troves of evidence provided by German authorities, who successfully seized the market’s criminal infrastructure in December 2021,” it read. Europol Public Notice.
“These sets of targets, created by cross-referencing and analyzing collected data and evidence, have served as the basis for hundreds of national investigations.”
“The sellers arrested following the police action against Monopoly Market were also active in other illicit markets, further hampering the trade of drugs and illicit goods on the dark web.”
Operation “SpecTor” used the collected evidence to target high-volume sellers and buyers of darknet marketplaces who were selling drugs and guns to other users in exchange for cryptocurrency.
As part of the operation, law enforcement also confiscated 850 kilograms (1,874 pounds) of drugs, including cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, LSD, ecstasy and 117 firearms .
Most of the arrested sellers and buyers, who Europol says engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods, resided in the US (153), UK (55) and Germany (52), while the Netherlands and Austria also had 10 and 9 arrests respectively.
The recent law enforcement operation was coordinated by Europol and the FBI and involved police from the UK, France, Poland, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Switzerland and the UK. United.
The arrests make “SpecTor” more effective than previous operations like “DisrupTor” in 2020, which recorded 179 arrests, and “Dark HunTor”, which resulted in the removal of 150 darknet vendors.
About a year ago, the German police, in coordination with the American authorities, close the world’s largest darknet market dedicated to the sale of drugs, named “Hydra”, also grabbing 23 million euros worth of cryptocurrency.