As Europol raids a dark web store, they catch almost 300 people.
Nearly 300 people were arrested Tuesday by Europol, the law enforcement office of the European Union. They were thought to be involved in illegal trade on the Dark web, an online market. Europol also seized the illegal bazaar.
It is one of the most recent crackdowns in a worldwide effort led by Europol to stop the “Monopoly Market.”
Because of network encryption, thieves and terrorists can trade goods and services on the dark web without being caught.
Catherine De Bolle, the Executive Director of Europol, said in a statement, “Our coalition of law enforcement agencies on three continents shows that we all do better when we work together.”
“This operation sends a strong message to criminals on the dark web: International law enforcement has the means and the ability to find you and hold you accountable for your illegal activities, even on the dark web,” ED said.
Europol says that 288 suspects have been caught, and in a series of raids in several countries, more than 50.8 million Euros ($53.4 million) in cash and virtual currencies, 850 kilogrammes of drugs, and 117 weapons have been taken.
Even with the knowledge, it is still not clear when the arrests took place.
The agency said that among the drugs that were recovered were more than 258 kilogrammes (569 pounds) of amphetamines, 43 kilogrammes (95 pounds) of cocaine, 43 kilogrammes (95 pounds) of MDMA, and more than 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds) of LSD and ecstasy pills.
The Hague-based office also said, “The United States had the most arrests, with 153. The United Kingdom was next, with 55, and Germany was third, with 52.”
It said, “A number of investigations are still going on to find out who else is behind dark web accounts.” Since law enforcement got access to the sellers’ long lists of customers, thousands of customers around the world are now also at risk of being prosecuted.
Europol got proof from Germany, which it said had seized the “criminal infrastructure” of the market in December 2021.
In April of last year, German and US authorities shut down the “Hydra” dark web market. This was a step towards the operation that was revealed on Tuesday.